What arrests you with most books, if you’re a reader at all, of the same category as I am, (for the record, I am sure you are), like all Borgesian readers — readers for whom the act of reading is prayer, an opium if you must will — is the title. When you’ve spent only hours at a bookstore, and made impulsive judgments of books, you’re almost embarrassed of what some would think of your hipster intuition that has willed its way through to you. The only thing that confirms you being part of the hipster generation is a genuine hatred of all that is hipsteresque — the irony (also, the relentless need to declare ironies is what some social psychologists define as hipster). Let us superior beings move beyond blogs, beyond all that is worth hating, all that is ironic in this world, and discuss perhaps the title of a book.
Some (hipster-haters, I presume) say if a book, written by a South-Asian writer, is more loved by the West rather than the South-Asian community, its rightful audience, then the fiction is fraudulent, an absolute heresy! What has the world come to when the South-Asian writer expects a similar intelligence from the minds of the Third World? Surely, there absolutely cannot be a global intellect which evolves from hackneyed stories of race and gender oppression to a suffering of the soul, to tackle on a human condition? Surely, the South-Asian writer must repent.
I admit to a sudden surge of drama in my writing style, which can be rightfully attributed to a certain special kind of person. I also confess to a certain enjoyment of this language, an enjoyment of an absurd magicality of words.
Coming back to what I intended to write about…
I digress because I need to slow down this wondrous occasion of celebrating a novel I’ve most loved in the most recent years. There was Orhan Pamuk’s My Name is Red, which seemed unsurpassable in its lyrical abstract beauty, until recently. The book that deserves this build-up, what has been coming up in my conversations too often, perhaps because of its perfection for my taste, is Zia Haider Rahman’s In the Light of What We Know. So, why does this particular moment deserve a celebration? It is at this very moment that I’ve realized I don’t wish for this book to end. How many times have you arrived deep enough into a book you love, to not want to go forward, keeping in mind the dread of its end?
Page 320, In the Light of What We Know. A moment of silence, to let the memory of thoughts evoked by all that came before, wash over you, while you imagine all that should come after.