Khan, Usma Aslam
KHAN, Usma Aslam
PERSONAL: Married David Maine (a writer). Education: Attended college in the United States.
ADDRESSES: Home—Lahore, Pakistan. Agent—The Susijn Agency Ltd., 3rd Fl., 64 Great Titchfield St., London W1W 7QH, England. E-mail—[email protected]
The Story of Noble Rot (novel), Penguin Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Trespassing (novel), Metropolitan Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Trespassing has been published in India, Spain, Italy, France, Holland, Sweden, Portugal, and Greece.
SIDELIGHTS: Usma Aslam Khan is a Pakistani author whose second book, Trespassing, received wide critical acclaim. The story takes place in Karachi in the summer of 1992 and focuses on the love between Dia, a woman whose father has died, leaving her mother to run the family's successful silk farm, and Daanish, an American-educated Pakistani who has returned for the funeral of his father, a doctor with modern views of the world. In addition to telling the story of the families of Dia and Daanish, Khan also intertwines the family history of a cook working for Dia's family. But it is primarily the troublesome affair between the traditional Pakistani Dia and the Americanized Daanish that the author uses to comment on the social and political aspects of Pakistani life versus the outlook of modern young Pakistanis.
In the New Statesman Chloe Diski noted that the author "allows each character to narrate their own story in their own distinctive voice. We are jolted back and forth … and are never able to settle into an uninterrupted narrative." The reviewer went on to say that "this can be jarring but it is never confusing." Diski also wrote that "it is a tender book, distinguished by subtle descriptions of nature." Rebecca Sturh commented in Library Journal that the novel is also a "political statement targeting U.S. foreign policy in Iraq while exploring ethnic conflict, social inequality, environmental destruction, and the status of women." Booklist contributor John Green felt that Khan successfully handles both the love story and the political and social commentary, adding that "what emerges is a brilliant, lush portrait of Karachi." A Publishers Weekly contributor concluded that Khan's depiction of the love affair is "stretched perilously thin" but that her "prose, ornate yet precise in its discussions of both love and politics, mark her as a truly gifted observer of moments grand and minute."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 1, 2004, John Green, review of Trespassing, p. 310.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2004, review of Trespassing, p. 767.
Library Journal, September 1, 2004, Rebecca Stuhr, review of Trespassing, p. 140.
New Statesman, September 1, 2003, Chloe Diski, review of Trespassing, p. 39.
Publishers Weekly, October 11, 2004, review of Trespassing, p. 57.