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In Karachi, Bilqis Ara Begum prepares for the wedding reception of her son Samad. The family has gathered and the servants have been given their instructions. The bride will soon have her hands painted with henna and be helped into her wedding dress and jewels.
This is not the wedding Bilqis planned for her only son. Kate is a westerner, an Australian from Melbourne. As Bilqis struggles to accept Kate, Pakistan is facing turmoil. The mullahs and the military are in control and an insurgency is beginning in Kashmir.
Then she discovers her servant girl Mumtaz is secretly meeting a freedom fighter—a tryst that threatens to destroy the girl’s honour—and Bilqis is left to examine her own convictions.
Twilight confirms Azhar Abidi’s stunning talent. This is an unforgettable novel about family, love and conflict.
‘Azhar Abidi’s first novel, Passarola Rising…was a delight. His new novel could hardly be more different, yet gives just as much pleasure…Abidi’s forte lies in his insights into the minds of individuals…the moral strength and emotional climax of the book peaks in Abidi’s meticulous account of each individual’s attempt to match self-will against necessity. The goodwill aspect has made for a pleasing and interesting read, but the narrative becomes much tauter when Abidi deliberately challenges his characters, and indirectly the reader, to plumb each person’s resistance to another’s point of view…The trick of making an audience think deeply while still giving them a good time is a precious one for a writer; here it is winningly abetted by the engaging occasionally different English of the subcontinent.’
‘Twilight is notable for the grave eloquence of its prose, for the brilliant long conversations between women, for its sense of the burden of human indebtedness. If the novel begins with a nod to Seth, it ends with an epiphany almost in the manner of Tolstoy. Abidi aims high, but he is already an accomplished, surprising, exuberant writer.’
‘A fine accomplishment…a literary writer, with appeal to readers who appreciate character complexity and insight into other cultures.’