Let me start by saying that among the tons of Middle-east based literature that I have read and fallen in love with, I have added one more name to that list – The Carpet Weaver by Nemat Sadat published by Penguin India.
The book follows the story of Kanishka. He is a teenager who has realized that he is Gay. He comes from a devout religious family. He knows his sexual orientation but cannot come out in front of his parents because he knows that will put them to shame. He has a titillating affair with his childhood friend Maihan and soon Maihan is all that his heart seeks. Maihan too comes from a conservative background so the question is will Maihan accept Kanishka as his boyfriend and come out of the closet?
Set against the backdrop of Afghanistan’s turmoil, this book is a bildungsroman, a coming-of-age narrative. The book steadily progresses and never once feels predictable. There is a lot going on in the protagonist’s mind and he ably conveys the same in succinct language. The book evoked juiciest emotions and is truly a tapestry (read “carpet”) of these emotions. The author brings forth the dilemma of homosexuals, he brings out the psychology, the claustrophobia, the trauma that homosexuals have to endure silently and the bullying that follows in school. All this hits hard.
The book is divided into three parts. Part one talks about Kanishka experimenting with his sexuality. He knows in his heart that he is inclined towards men but when his parents ask him to date a hot girl like Lamba, he doesn’t refute. The part two of the book speaks more about the upheaval in Afghanistan owing to which Kanishka loses his father and his family has to flee their motherland. They are sold to the Mujahedeens and here Kanishka turns a carpet weaver. Part three of the book speaks about the escape of Kanishka and his family to America where he is reunited with Maihan. All the parts dexterously define Kanishka and his life choices. I can’t pick a favorite of these three but part two was really feels for me.
The transition of these phases in the life of the protagonist never once bore you. I found myself turning pages and neglecting time. I was with the characters while I was reading the book. The book doesn’t host many characters but the few that it highlights will evoke great many feelings in you, deftly. The description of Afghanistan, its culture and ethos was profound and I found myself teleported to Kabul. Despite being the debut, never once the backdrop has friction with the story and vice versa. The backdrop is seamlessly woven in the narrative and is sure to give you the feels. I loved how the book comes to a close. I had more respect and love for Kanishka by that point. I wouldn’t say that other characters are wrong in their perspective, their perspective is justified and the author makes sure that we too, as in the readers too, see this.
This book is a must read and a brilliant work when it comes to LGBTQ literature.
Publisher: Penguin India
To buy the book pls click https://amzn.to/2Pj18ln