Amal: the practical sister who digs up the “diamond key” that unlocks the mystery of Pakicetus, a whale-dog creature who once swam the ancient seas that are now Pakistan. Mehwish: the blind younger sister, who moves with the sun and music inside her and thinks in “cup lits not fully legal.” Zahoor: their heretical grandfather, a scientist who loves variation and “vim zee” and his two granddaughters most of all. Noman: the young man who steps into a lecture hall, decides “their triangle needs a fourth point,” and changes all their lives. These are the four shifting chambers who make the heart of The Geometry of God, the new novel from lauded Pakistani writer Uzma Aslam Khan. Through these vivid, contradictory, and original characters, Khan celebrates the complexities of familial and erotic love, the tug of curiosity and duty, the intersections of faith and longing. Her exuberant language draws from Urdu and Punjabi and invents one of its own for Mehwish, whose fractured English divides and slows and reveals. The Geometry of God is a novel one can read greedily, following these characters as their lives unfold against the backdrop of General Zia’s Pakistan, where religious fundamentalism gains ground and the mujaheddin is funded by gem sales and the Americans. Or one can savor, as the sisters show us: digging as Amal does toward the novel’s deepest questions about love and knowledge and faith, moving as Mehwish does to the rhythms of an abundant and original language.
Uzma Aslam Khan was born in Lahore and grew up in Karachi. She is the author of three novels, including Trespassing, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize. She teaches literature at Hampshire College.
"[F]uses the romantic, the spiritual and the political...the characters, the poetry and the philosophical questions she raises are rendered with a power and beauty that make this novel linger in the mind and heart."
Elegant, sensuous and fiercely intelligent, 'The Geometry of God' takes an argument that is in danger of becoming stale- that of fundamentalism vs. free thinking among Muslims- and animates it in a wonderfully inventive story that pits science against politics and the freedom of women against the insecurities of men.
Like her better-known contemporaries...Uzma Aslam Khan comes from a younger generation of Pakistani authors born and raised in the disrupted decades of the 1980s and 90s whose fiction looks back to those earlier times and attempts to re-examine the turbulent history of their country. ... Her third novel, 'The Geometry of God', describes the psychological effects of General Zia-ul-Haq's campaign to Islamize knowledge'. ... As in her previous work, Aslam Khan deploys several narrators, both male and female...The narrators offer partial perspectives, which obscure, elucidate and expand our understanding of the events described, not only the machinations that result in Zahoor's downfall, but also the developments in their everyday lives which shape their characters. Yet, it is above all, the two female perspectives...which make the novel worth reading. ... Amal offers insights into modern Pakistan, but it is the abstract perspectives offered by her sister, Mehwish, a character who sees the world with her inner eye, tastes its truths and tells them slant", that are the most original and captivating. ... we become attuned to her quietly anarchic voice..complex...inventive..."
Uzma Aslam Khan, a fearless young Pakistani novelist, writes about what lies beneath the surface- ancient fossils embedded in desert hillsides, truths hidden inside the language of everyday life. In 'The Geometry of God' (Clockroot), set in 1970s and '80s Pakistan, a young math whiz called Noman writes pseudoscience for his father's cohort of religious extremists while secretly gravitating toward a diehard evolutionist and his adventurous granddaughter, Amal. As faith and reason fatally collide, Amal's blind younger sister, Mehwish, tries to decipher a world she cannot see but understands better than most. Khan's urgent defense of free thought and action- often galvanized by strong-minded, sensuous women- courses through every page of this gorgeously complex book; but what really draws the reader in is the way Mehwish taste-tests the words she hears, as if they were pieces of fruit, and probes the meaning of human connection in a culture of intolerance, but also of stubborn hope.