Omar Shahid Hamid is an acclaimed novelist who decided to tread upon the path of bringing his thoughts on paper after he beat the odds with life as a Senior Superintendent in the police force in Karachi and published his first book called The Prisoner which is loosely based on the Daniel Pearl case of 2002. His latest offering is the Spinner’s Tale, where once again he has been bold enough to point a finger towards Pakistan’s most perturbing issues – extremism and violence.
The story chronicles the lives of three best friends; Ausi, Eddy, and Sana. Throughout the novel we get to see that these three completely different individuals share an extremely intricate relationship, especially in the case of Ausi and Eddy, who communicate in the old fashioned way i.e. via letters. The difference between the characters is so vast that as Eddy and Sana embark on a journey of receiving higher education in America, Ausi stays behind and evolves into the bone chilling man now called Sheikh Ahmed Uzair Sufi. He’s not only feared by the reader, but everyone else along the lines of the book. But despite the sudden development of characters, the author has stayed true to the nature of typical Pakistani boys by binding Ausi and Eddy to cricket [SPOILER: The title may have something to do with just that] and rekindling old memories, giving a more human characteristic to our Jihadist.
Sufi’s only mantra is violence. And that is where Hamid brings in his decade long experience of working with the police force. Stretched across three different locations; Karachi, Kashmir, and Afghanistan – all war torn areas – Hamid brings to life the top notch Jihadi militant of Pakistan. His knowledge of these locations, especially Karachi, can be vividly experienced throughout the novel. He puts forth the trials and tribulations of creating an extremely dangerous extremist while giving an insight to the reader of what really pushes people towards a path of destruction. Basically, the process of radicalization has been put on paper for you! That, by far, is the most compelling part of the book.
The book is engrossing with description of events so crisp that it is bound to leave an impact on the reader. The variations between the past and present have been presented in an exquisite manner. You may find certain similarities to the Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid in terms of the subject and premise, but the Spinner’s Tale is a completely different ball game altogether. This one has his own issues to deal with and remains evidently miles away from Mohsin Hamid’s work. Hamid raises quite a few questions throughout the read, but what sets it apart from other contemporary works are his answers to those questions.
As with his debut novel, Hamid makes the use of real and current happenings in his latest one too. However, if you happen to be a fan of his previous work, then be prepared for an ultimate shock because like Sufi, Hamid too has changed his form of writing with the depiction of gritty graphic scenes and the overall vernaculars. But he does leave a mark and as you tilt the concluding page, you just want a little bit more of it. So make sure you kick start your summer reading list with something particularly ranging from our part of the world.
The Spinner’s Tale hit bookshelves on June 19th, 2015 and is available at Liberty Books stores and online via: http://www.libertybooks.com/bookdetail.aspx?pid=25488