REVIEW: Salt and Saffron by Kamila Shamsie

 Genre: History, Diasporic Fiction

Rating: 2/5

Much to my consternation, it is such a disappointing novel. I was really looking forward to discovering the work of yet another Pakistani author after the gems I uncovered with Mohsin Hamid (reviewed here) and Roopa Farooki. I honestly feel it was more of a history lesson. No, I take that back. If it was a straightforward history lesson, perhaps I would’ve understood something. I am not familiar with the South Asian history involving the Partition of Pakistan and India, and the Mughal era. (side note: history has always bored me)

Unlike Bitter Sweets (by Roopa Farooki, reviewed here) where all the story’s elements flow seamlessly together despite illustrating the characters’ double lives through one generation, Salt and Saffron left me with utter confusion and a general feeling of malaise from the very beginning due to failure of a discernible plot.

Remember the Composition 101 we learnt in school? Each story has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. I have not been able to understand which is what with this book. Moreover it has an army of characters that the mind just can’t keep up with. Despite repetitive insistence of my brain telling me to just leave this book altogether, I persevered and gave this book much more of a chance that I should have. I arduously read 19

out of 23 chapters and the last couple of pages, thinking I may receive the closure I have been seeking from this book. But no, there was none. And let me tell you, I am not one to have started a novel or a tv show and let go in the middle, ever, unless it was really that terrible that I have no desire to know the ending (*cough* Breaking Bad *cough*)

I don’t recommend this book to anyone unless you enjoy being swallowed up by a sea of chaotic sub plots going off on a tangent leaving you with your emotions all over the place.

What are your thoughts? Have you read any books by Pakistani authors? What are your recommendations? Sound off in the comments below! 🙂




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