Book Review: The Infidels of Mecca by Abbas Zaidi



ISBN 978-8129151889

Genre: Fiction

Publishers: Rupa Publications India

Price: Rs. 295/-  ( I got the book for review from the publisher)
Behind the Book

27 December 2007, Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Benazir Bhutto is about to address a political rally. Pakistan is torn between messianic fanatics and idealist reformers. An old school Sufi-activist professor Umer is up against Colonel Burq, a hard line radical who will do anything to prevent her from coming to power. There is Dara Shikoh, the young, epileptic troubled lover who can smell the scent of her dead mother around him all the time. Son of colonel burq and a pupil of professor Umer, all Dara wants is to live with the love of his life Laleen. Will the two lovers be able to create their paradise? Benazir’s rally is about to begin and it will change Dara’s life forever..

About the Author

Abbas Zaidi lives in Sydney, Australia with his family where he has taught linguistics, journalism and academic writing at the university of Sydney, the University of new south wales and western Sydney university. In Lahore, he worked as a sub-editor, columnist and editor with a national daily. He is the author of two and a half words and other stories and language shift, sociolinguistic lives of two Punjabi generations in Brunei Darussalam. He is an editor-contributor to faith-based violence and deobandi militancy in Pakistan. Zaidi is currently writing the virtuous city, his second novel.

With a gut-wrenching cover and a mind boggling blurb, The Infidels of Mecca is a hair-raising read. After turning over the last page of the book, a weird feeling washed over me. I felt devastated and at the same time, overcome with a lot of emotions. I wanted to cry, feel angry and shout at the world that treats religion above everything else.

This book tells us the story of Dara and Laleen who live in Pakistan and are in love with each other. They believe in a socialist society and along with their few friends and a professor, work towards creating a better world. However, unbeknownst to them, their country is about to undergo a huge change starting with the assassination of the Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Their lives turn topsy-turvy after that incident, making them question the very beliefs they had held dear till then. Their dreams of a socialist society overnight seem like a nightmare to them turning into a reality tearing them apart. The rest of the story is how they deal with the circumstances, depicting whether the circumstances got better of them or they got it better.

With a poignant narrative and a brilliantly woven story-line, this book moved me beyond tears. It gives you a close glimpse into the country of Pakistan and its internal politics /policies. It is heartening to read the near true depiction of circumstances that led to Benazir Bhutto's assassination and the aftermath it resulted in. Lucid language and moving descriptions add to the beauty of the strong plot.  The main characters of Dara and Laleen are well depicted and they make a place in your heart slowly as their story unveils itself. No wonder, the climax leaves a reader shocked and perplexed.This book raises very important issues with its portrayal of the Ahmedis and other minorities in Pakistan. The crux of the whole story relies on the base of religion and the sensitivity around it. All in all, this book is a lethal combination of religion and politics, with a love story at the centre of it all, making it a heart-wrenching read.

Strongly recommended for everyone who enjoys dramas with religious and political backdrops.

Foodie Verdict

This book is like Pinnns - delectable combination of sweetness with nutty flavours, roasted to perfection.

Source: Pinni Sweet