REVIEW: ‘THE CARPET WEAVER’ BY NEMAT SADAT

Zaki jaan says sodomy is immoral, impure, unpardonable and wretched. Every night when Kanishka goes to sleep, he wished the morning to make him ‘normal’, to replace his fantasies of muscular shoulders and flat chests with smooth cheeks and curved hips.

Nemat Sadat’s debut novel ‘The Carpet Weaver’ published on 25th June 2019 starts in 1997 Afghanistan. The novel is vivid with colours, smell, taste, with the strengths and desires of the heart and the body and beauty of life that is always there.

Kanishka Nurzada, the son of a wealthy carpet seller falls in love with one of his best friends Maihan, the boy everyone wants to be. But they have to keep themselves and their relationship a secret, not only because kuniha is shameful and intolerable , but once the war breaks out, their families’ political ideologies tear them apart; with only a thread of promises and memories for Kanishka to hold on to.

When Kanishka’s Baba is taken away by the police, his madar decides to put family before nation. She understands the struggles of existence and gets used to the American life ; but the beliefs of culture are so deeply set within her that she fails to accept her son’s sexuality; now Kanishka yet again has to tear himself away.

The book is at its brightest when in Afghanistan. The streets, gardens, people, tradition, celebrations – an excellent burst of life, so unlike from the Afghanistan we are used to glimpse at through the news reporters’ lens.

Then comes Pakistan, a foreign country depicted mainly in a few hundred square feet. The way Kanishka’s dream of becoming a carpet weaver comes true is deeply and poetically painful.

The Royal Islamists, the secret involvements with the CIA and the Maoist party, the spies, the army discipline in schools, the acid attacks and sexual abuses form a very strong background for Kanishka’s story to walk upon. And this is what echoes the power as well as the song of Sadat’s words.

The book is so close to reality that the horridness of the consequences of the war and the struggle for identity settles a ball of pain in the chest that lasts for a much longer time after the book has been closed.

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