Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Unmarriageable, by Soniah Kamal

Ballantine Books, January 2019

This is Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice through Pakistani eyes, and it's not just a simple copy with names of people and places changed.

Soniah Kamal is a Pakistani writer, who grew up in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere, received part of her education in the USA. Jane Austen was one favorite author, and she was stuck by the ways that these very English novels, written two centuries ago, reflected the core daily concerns of modern Pakistani life, and in many ways universal concerns: family, love, success, happiness, respectability, security.

Alysba Binat is like and not like Elizabeth Bennet, and while if you've read Pride & Prejudice, you know the basic outlines of her story, she's well worth getting to know in her own right. The other Binats and their friends and neighbors are also alike and not like, and the similarities and differences are both reasons this book is worth reading.

I'm really not prepared to comment in any detail about the Pakistani aspects of the story; I don't know nearly enough. I feel I got a useful, interesting, enjoyable exposure to an unfamiliar culture, and I strongly recommend you take the same opportunity.

Highly recommended.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

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