Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Book Review of The Empty Room by Sadia Abbas

I was exceptionally pleased to discover this hidden gem. My piqued curiosity to know how art can form a base for the book attracted me towards reading it. It is a theme I enjoy exploring. The Empty Room is a piece of exquisite writing. It highlights some important aspects needed for a progressive society giving us glimpses of patriarch, dominance and political rifts in a state.

The Empty room is a book set in 1970’s. We are in Karachi, Pakistan and enter a household with Tahira, in which she is newly married. This household fails to mark its first good impression on the reader and what sparks up is inquisitiveness, plethora of questions to ponder over.The story proves to be immersive at its start. It revolves around Tahira adjusting in this family of jeering females and a husband whose character is like a hologram sticker showing various reflective sides. She struggles to make a connection with her work of art until an accident seizes the two pillars of support she always turned to.In her moments of grief, solitude and memorabilia she finds her way back to her passion and creates a series of paintings; which is also an ode to her loss.The book showcases the power of politics,how it can uproot people and their lives and affect a family so deeply.

The hero here is the writing. The kind of writing which carves the characters, eventually making them the driving force of the book. Sadia Abbas takes supreme care to intricately sketch her characters, not very distinct as we often read about a dominating abusive male/female fraternity yet demarcated with a finesse of portrayal. The vision that she brings to you with the mere power of her words is commendable. She makes it easy for the reader to imagine the scenarios which run in the book, pertaining to specific characters. The prose is elaborate,lustrous and poetic; a sublime combination of the three. I had minor qualms with some situations in the plot and wished it were presented a bit differently and didn’t agree to, nevertheless not stealing the light from the positives.

An addition to Pakistani literature which mustn’t be ignored and which certainly needs to see some limelight.

Thank you Zubaan Books for the review copy.

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