The Wish Maker: A Novel by Ali Sethi (Riverhead Books, June 11, 2009), 432 pages
Set in Lahore, Pakistan, The Wish Maker is Sethi’s debut novel. The story follows Zaki Shirazi as he comes of age, growing up in a house full of women — his cousin Samar Api three years older than he, his mother Zakia the magazine editor, his grandmother Daadi, and the house help, Naseem. Along the way, the reader also learns Pakistan’s entire history, from the conception of the country.
This book is a history of Pakistan (although not chronological); a coming of age, with the necessary attendant angst; and a family drama.
The book is partly inextricably linked to Pakistan, but it’s also universal — at points I nearly forgot what the book’s setting was.
Overall, I just felt so-so about this book. I don’t have strong feelings either way. I don’t generally love coming-of-age tales, and I didn’t love that aspect of this one, either. I did enjoy the family story, as well as the telling of Pakistan’s story through the eyes of a fictional family. I loved the cultural references: the food, the clothes, the language (I’ve got a word post for next week full of words from just this book).
At one point, when the book is relating a part of the story during which Zaki, our narrator, isn’t present, it was a bit confusing — I had a hard time remembering who the main character of this story-within-a-story was.
Sethi lives in Lahore, Pakistan.
Watch Sethi talk about The Wish Maker:
(via Riverhead Books)
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