Author: Sorayya Khan
ISBN/UPC (if available): 014303114
A deeply moving novel about war; atonement, forgiveness.
East Pakistan, 1971. A few months after losing her entire family to a violent cyclone that lashed the shores of East Pakistan, Sajida, a girl of fiveandsix, is found wandering drenched and dazed on a pavement by Ali, a young Pakistani soldier. He brings Sajida home to West Pakistan where Nanijaan, his mother, unquestioningly accepts her as their own. When Sajida, now married to her college sweetheart, Hussein, conceives her third child, she knows it will be a girl and that she will be special. Indeed, although she suffers from a mental disability, Noor is of another world and her world is one of colour.
On Noor’s first birthday, Nanijaan gives her a box of crayons and a drawing tablet, and she begins, immediately, to colour the tablet blue…As the years go by, Noor’s sketches and paintings take her family by storm. For they begin to take the shape of the memories that haunt her parents and her grandfather-memories that have been locked away in the deepest recesses of the mind because they are either too shameful or too traumatic to be revealed.
As Noor’s drawings bring to life sights, sounds, smells and sensations of the past, Sajida, Hussein and Ali are forced to admit to the betrayals and disillusionments that they thought had been buried with time. Can Noor, with her other-worldly intuition, help her family to heal the wounds? As once tender and unsettling, Noor is a novel about the horrors of war, the fragility of human relationships and the astonishing power of love.
Rich resonant and lyrical, Noor is a novel which tackles, unflinchingly, the legacy of war, and makes of great suffering a work of beauty. Sorayya Khan has written a powerful and haunting novel, and a wholly original book-Claire Messud, author of The Last Life and The Hunters: Two Short Novels.
(Noor) is both courageous and remarkable because it breaks a long literary silence and is the first Pakistani English novel to focus on East Pakistan during the war of 1971…Sorayya Khan’s quiet, subtle writing…adds to the poignancy of the novel.