BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Salt and Saffron by Kamila Shamsie

Salt and SaffronFirst an interruption: I learned a very entertaining meaning for a certain common(-ish) word on the first page of Shamsie’s second novel: ‘bugaboo.’ “It’s a word that demands to be said out loud,” writes Shamsie, “particularly among bilingual Pakistanis who recognize its resemblance to ‘baghal boo’ or ‘armpit odour’, but its meaning ‘object of baseless terror’ makes it misleading in this conversation.” I have to add – isn’t it so ironic that those trendy, overdesigned, overpriced but greatly colored strollers of the same name, Bugaboo, translate into ‘objects of baseless terror,’ much less ‘armpit odour’? I just couldn’t stop laughing …

Bugaboo is also at the center of this complicated extended family tale that ultimately proves to be a simple love story. Aliya, a Pakistani elite on her way home to Karachi via a cousin-visiting stopover in London from her American university, meets a young man in-flight and eventually comes to realize that he just might be Prince Charming. But because un-royal Cal, who is actually Khaleel, is of a family that is hardly comparable to Aliya’s venerable, aristocratic, timeless Dard-e-Dil clan, he becomes Aliya’s bugaboo … at least until the novel’s final page.

In between, Shamsie writes cleverly of the memorable, entertaining, frustrating Dard-e-Dil ancestors (a much-needed family tree precedes even the first page in the novel!), with Aliya being the supreme storyteller who is not quite certain of her own story. Aliya must make peace with her estranged grandmother, her missing aunt who is also her “almost-twin,” her British sort-of aunt and cousin, before she can finally allow herself to let that bugaboo-baseless terror go and receive true love, even if it originates from the wrong neighborhood, the wrong family, but seemingly the right man …

Tidbit: Don’t forget … Shamsie is coming to SALTAF 2009! That’s Saturday November 7, 2009, just two weeks away. Don’t miss your opportunity to meet her in person. She’ll be talking about and reading from one of my absolutely favorite novels, her latest title, Burnt Shadows.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2000 (United States)


No Comment

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.