One September morning in 2008, an investment banker approaching forty, his career in collapse and his marriage unraveling, receives a surprise visitor at his West London townhouse. In the disheveled figure of a South Asian male carrying a backpack the banker recognizes a long-lost friend, a mathematics prodigy who disappeared years earlier under mysterious circumstances. The friend has resurfaced to make a confession of unsettling power.
In the Light of What We Know takes us on a journey of exhilarating scope-from Kabul to London, New York, Islamabad, Oxford, and Princeton-and explores the great questions of love, belonging, science, and war. It is an age-old story: the friendship of two men and the betrayal of one by the other. The visitor seeks atonement, and the narrator sets out to tell his friend's story but finds himself at the limits of what he can know about the world-and, ultimately, himself. Set against the breaking of nations and beneath the clouds of economic crisis, this surprisingly tender novel chronicles the lives of people carrying unshakable legacies of class and culture as they struggle to tame their futures.
©2014 Zia Haider Rahman (P)2014 Tantor Media
"Beautifully written and renewed evidence that some of the most interesting writing in English is coming from the edges of old empires." (Kirkus Starred Review)
This is a dense novel but the writing and performance are outstanding. It is full of ideas and I had to go buy a hard copy because I wanted to underline sections of it and be able to refer back to it. It is about our times and about identity and exile. Especially brilliant on the latter. It is not a page turner and I did put it down a couple of times. But it always drew me back in and I felt a resonance with its ideas and a deep sympathy for the two main characters, the narrator and his friend Zafar.
Beautiful writing. Wonderful character development; I will have Zafar as a permanent resident in my personal list of memorable fictional characters. This is a very rich work of philosophical and social commentary.
I have a doctorate in philosophy; I read many, many books; I like serious fiction. I say all that simply to let you know that my feelings about this book are not because I am in any sense anti-intellectual or averse to ambitious fiction. This, however, is fake fiction. It's as if someone had devised some sort of hot air balloon that has just the right contours and just the right behavior to make it appear like a fighter jet on distant radar. This book, with its pretentious epigraphs, its exotic locations, its occasionally inflated vocabulary, its adolescent opining on politics and philosophy, its world weary sophisticates, its post-colonial ambiance is just that sort of hollow fake designed to push the buttons of wanna-be's, middlebrows, and hipsters. But beneath all the posturing, it's basically a not terribly good soap opera. And I suppose that's why I so strongly dislike it: it isn't an honest failure; it's a cynical fraud by someone who likes to play at being a writer but lacks any real inspiration other than a desire to strike poses. I honestly feel like I've been robbed of many hours of my life.
This is an amazing novell, worth every bit of its prizes. It is long; it is slow; it wanders into almost unrelated reflections; but every sentence makes you feel the characters close at heart.
The narrator makes a believable scene of two men with British accents with South-Asian undertones. However I wish he had given different voices to each character when they speak. It makes easy to loose the thread of whose toughts we are listening to.
This book is exceptional in its beauty of language and depth of intellectual pursuits. it was also surprising in the details of the story and kept me thoroughly engaged.
I have never submitted a review on either Audible or Amazon but I hated this book and this reader so much, I am taking the time to submit a review on both sites.
This story is told by two people, constantly switching back and forth, and the narrator was unable to differentiate between the two characters. Audible records books with more than one reader sometimes, this, of all books, should have been done that way.
This author has more airs than Umberto Eco (Who's the Name of the Rose was bearable but whose other books were insufferable). A friend of mine recommended b/c he read the New Yorker article. I gave up after 20 hours b/c I had 36 more to go.
Somerset Maugham was once asked what advice he had for would-be writers. He answered.."don't". Pity Rahman didn't heed this advice
The modern novelist confuses length with value. The last few books I have read or listened to could have been reduced by half and lose nothing. This book is typical of this modern curse. Pages go by with pointless recitative. When the "aria" finally arrives it's not very profound or interesting.The critics who gushed about this book are like abstract art critics: Some key figure gives the nod of approval and they fall into line.
The "story" could be told in a few pages;the rest of this book is self-indulgent drivel.To imagine that whatever pops into the writer's head will be of great interest to the reader is a form of literary narcissism. The book is largely boring and pointless. The few digressions into Godel's logic theory or credit default swaps could have been lifted from Wikipedia.
My advice to the would be writer....Keep it brief and read Martin Amis
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