LONGLISTED FOR THE DSC PRIZE FOR SOUTH ASIAN LITERATURE 2014
LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN ASIAN LITERARY PRIZE 2012
‘Smart, fierce, and poignant: perhaps the most exciting novel yet by this very talented writer.’ Mohsin Hamid (Author of 'Moth Smoke' and 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist')
'In gorgeous prose, Khan writes about Pakistan, a land of breathtaking beauty, and the complex relationships between people who are weighted with grief and estrangement. As her characters' lives play out against the backdrop of the external world whose violence gradually closes in on them, Khan brilliantly probes the fatal limitations of human understanding. A novel of great lucidity and tenderness, filled with splendid descriptions of the land, the people who have always inhabited it, and those who are irresistibly drawn to it.' Thérèse Soukar Chehade,
(Winner of the 2011 Arab-American Book Award)
THINNER THAN SKIN is about identity and about belonging. It's also a love story: between a young Pakistani man trying to make his way as a photographer in America, and a girl of a Pakistani father and German mother brought up in the US who wants to 'return' in the classic diaspora way. They make the trip to Pakistan and what happens there will change them and their relationship forever and be fatal for some. This novel is also a love letter to the wilds of Northern Pakistan, to glaciers, to the nomadic life of the indigenous people in the Northern territories, the old silk road, an area where China encroaches and Pakistani nomads, Uzbeks, Russians, Chinese and Afghans all mix together to trade.
'Human fates juxtaposed with a complex geopolitical situation make for an interesting read.' Publishers Weekly
'Thinner than Skin is a riveting and timely novel about identity, belonging, and love; a novel about the clash of cultures and the impact of imposing beliefs and preconceptions on others. Nadir, a young Pakistani man trying to make his way as photographer in America, falls in love with Farhana, the daughter of a Pakistani father and German mother brought up in the US, who yearns to make a pilgrimage to a country she's never seen. Together they journey to Pakistan, but they are not the only interlopers here: a suspect in a recent bombing has arrived just before them, and the authorities' hunt for him casts a dangerous shadow over their journey. It is here, in this magnificent landscape - where anthropomorphic glaciers are born of mating ice - that a chance meeting with a young nomad will change their lives and the lives of those around them, tragically and forever.
Thinner than Skin is a haunting paean to the troubled wilds of Northern Pakistan, to its glaciers, to the old Silk Road, and to the vanishing nomadic life of the indigenous people in the Northern territories, where China encroaches, and Pakistanis, Uzbeks, Russians, Chinese, and Afghans all come together to trade - food and livestock, guns and secrets, songs and folktales. It is a work of piercing beauty and intelligence, and an urgent novel for our times.' Man Asia Prize Jury
‘A story of love and identity, Uzma Aslam Khan’s Thinner than Skin is set among the magnificent landscape of glaciers, mountains, rivers and valleys in northern Pakistan and the indigenous Gujjar people, handsome, hospitable and in control of their destinies until the scourge of terrorism begins to destroy their lives. Thenovel delves into the emotions of grief and love as the author attempts to show how lives are unravelled without warning and individuals shaped by their environment. There are three parallel perspectives in this novel, as Khan navigates through the mountainous terrain (geographically and sensually) with the expertise of a seasoned adventurer — she is known not to stay away from fearlessly probing into relationships and what silently lingers within the private realm.’ The Dawn, Pakistan
'...a virtuoso performance - a master class in the art of creative writing.' India Today
'Thinner than Skin, marked by a quivering sensitivity of tone in the manner of fellow novelist Nadeem Aslam... The carefully-woven prose has many languorous descriptions of inner and outer states as well as a subterranean unfurling of plot.' Time Out Mumbai
'You don't just read Thinner than Skin; you enter it, and inhabit it, to comprehend it. You'll be richer, of course... The brilliant author's best, thus far.' First City
'Here in the West we don't receive many English-language novels by Pakistani women authors, so when we do we should pay attention... Thinner Than Skin has elements of quest, thriller, love story and legend, with unconventional characters' The Star, Toronto
‘Pakistan may not be the easiest place to be these days but this bracing narrative manages to forge a connection with the land’s inimitable spirit with a few precision strokes. While it may not be easy to comprehend the land’s many moods — a fusion of proud traditions and fickle desires — it takes a really good listener to bring its inherent contradictions to life. The compassionate commentary uses the outlines of [this] uneasy backdrop to compose its heartfelt plea right after the silent denunciation. Though her glistening prose illuminates the changing face of Pakistan, the afterglow exposes the debilitating depths and muffled cries… Thinner Than Skin acts as a beacon to these inhospitable looking shores.’ Pakistan Daily News
'The quality of Khan's prose is deft and inspiring. Her analogies are extended, her descriptions poetic, thick with adjectives and metaphors. But, luckily for the reader, her sentences are not contrived. And all along, she tells the story well. This book is a must-read for all those who need to know more about the eclectic people and the riveting beauty of a land called Pakistan.' TTS Newsline, Pakistan
Galaade Editions France
Material: US edition; Canadian edition; Indian edition (345pp).
WINNER OF THE BRONZE AWARD IN THE INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS BOOK AWARDS 2010
FEATURED IN KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST BOOKS OF 2009
FOREWORD MAGAZINE'S BEST BOOKS OF 2009 FINALIST
‘Elegant, sensuous and fiercely intelligent, a wonderfully inventive story that pits science against politics and the freedom of women against the insecurities of men.’ Kamila Shamsie
‘Such wonderful and persuasive writing. No one writes like her about the body, about the senses, about the physical world.’ Nadeem Aslam
The paleantologist Zahoor tries to do his research while General Zia is launching a campaign to Islamize knowledge. In the Punjab Salt Range, Zahoor’s granddaughter Amal finds proof of the ‘dog-whale’,Pakicetus, the oldest known primitive whale. But Amal’s baby sister Mehwish becomes blind and Amal will have to stay home to raise her. Noman, neurotic, very funny (and horny), an aspiring mathematician, hopes to one day find a number like a magic bloom. Instead, he’s appointed secretary to his father, a minister in the Party of Creation. His father wants Noman to help put the youth of Pakistan back on the Straight Path. Instead of finding the Straight Path, Noman finds Zahoor. While the culture war between the Islamists and the secularists rages, Noman bats for both sides. The friendship between Noman, Zahoor, Amal and Mehwish grows. And then, at Amal’s wedding, tragedy strikes. Zahoor is locked up. It seems it will take an old man on trial to make youth find itself.
'Beautifully written, funny and full of tension, The Geometry of God not only gives great insights into Pakistani culture and thinking, but also strives to be great entertainment. With its playful language and vivid characters, it will give you what you expect from a novel: a great read.' Metro Éireann
‘Uzma Aslam Khan, a fearless young Pakistani novelist, writes about what lies beneath the surface – ancient fossils embedded in desert hillsides, truths hidden inside the language of everyday life. A young math whiz called Noman writes pseudoscience for his father’s cohort of religious extremists while secretly gravitating toward a diehard evolutionist and his adventurous granddaughter, Amal. As faith and reason fatally collide, Amal’s blind younger sister, Mehwish, tries to decipher a world she cannot see but understands better than most. Khan’s urgent defense of free thought and action – often galvanized by strong-minded, sensuous women – courses through every page of this gorgeously complex book; but what really draws the reader in is the way Mehwish taste-tests the words she hears, as if they were pieces of fruit, and probes the meaning of human connection in a culture of intolerance, but also of stubborn hope.’ Paperback Gem, O: The Oprah Magazine
‘The connections are finely layered in this delicately crafted book. There is no denying the sensitivity with which Khan writes. The writing is extremely elegant.’ Indian Express
‘A simultaneous rush that has funniness, absurdity, shock, tenderness, revelation and great sex.’ First City
‘Khan undoubtedly breaks the mould. She carves a sublime story of new and old with contemporary panache’ Dawn
'the characters, the poetry and the philosophical questions she raises are rendered with a power and beauty that make this novel linger in the mind and heart.' Kirkus Review (starred review)
'Throughout this complex narrative, Ms. Khan writes with unfailing intelligence and linguistic magic.' Washington Times
‘The Geometry of God becomes that rare creature, a novel where the urgency of the message is matched by the verve of the narrative…the author's intelligence, imprinted on every page like a watermark, blooms into full colour when delving into Mehwish's strange and lovely inner world…The book may be (and probably will be) read by many as a primer to the growth of fundamentalism in the region; to my mind, however, that is the least of what this gorgeous, complex stunner of a novel offers.’ Eclectica (Click here for full review)
Rupa & Co India
Neri Pozza Italy
Editions Philippe Picquier France
Clockroot Books/Interlink USA & Canada
Elan Vital Pakistan
Material: Indian edition; US edition (384pp); various others.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE COMMONWEALTH PRIZE 2003
‘We glimpse a Pakistan - that no writer in English has ever depicted before - a delicate erotic tale spun from threads of timeless myth.’ The Independent
‘Khan's second novel reverses the East-to-West pilgrimage so fashionable in recent sub-continental fiction. She creates a story of cultural and ethnic conflict in spare and elegant prose that resonates beyond its immediate setting.' The Observer
'A narrative as intricately patterned and vivid as lengths of top-quality silk. The image of doomed love and a violent society is original, emotional, and inevitably sad.' The Sunday Telegraph
'TRESPASSING'S epic scope, encompassing global conflicts as well as very personal concerns, is enhanced by its subtle language and its interweaved narratives of beautifully realized characters.' Metro
‘A tender book, distinguished by subtle descriptions of nature. It is a celebration of the importance of perception, inquisitiveness about the smaller details of life, but Khan does not shy away from the bigger picture. Writing intelligently, she explores colonialism, identity and belief, without presuming to offer any conclusions or solutions. Khan works with questions; hints and queries replace absolutes.’ Chloe Diski, New Statesman
'TRESPASSING is a bold and self-confident piece of work that breaks from the dogmas and doctrines of a conflict-torn state… We cannot help but become involved in the lives of the various characters so lovingly presented.' Sunday Tribune
Elan Vital Pakistan
Editions Philippe Picquier France
Europa Verlag Germany
Neri Pozza Italy
Alfaguara World Spanish
Van Gennep/Rainbow pocket NL
Alfa Narodna Knjiga Serbia
Det Norske Samlaget Norway
Bertrand Brasil (Record) Brazil
Material: finished copies (448pp).
Originally published to great acclaim in 2001, reissued by Rupa (2009).
'An amusing, shocking, haunting novel. As a debut, it is first rate.' The Tribune
'A novel that holds your attention from start to finish.' Deccan Chronicle
'A brilliantly spun tale - it has an ethereal quality reminiscent of The Tales of Arabian Nights - yet is rooted in reality and realism.' Deccan Herald
'The novel has been exquisitely layered with the fantastic - One just can't get enough.' Indian Express
Rupa & Co India
Material: finished copies (217pp).