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The Return of Faraz Ali

ebook / ISBN-13: 9781529356052

Price: £16.99

ON SALE: 31st March 2022

Genre: Fiction & Related Items

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‘Stunning, not only on account of the author’s talent, of which there is clearly plenty, but also in its humanity’ New York Times Book Review

‘A gripping read – everything beautifully evoked, from the alleys of the Old City to the atmosphere of corruption and secrets.’ Kamila Shamsie

A spellbinding debut set in Pakistan during the anarchic late ’60s – a multi-layered tale of family, identity and the politics of power in a caste-ridden society.

As riots erupt on the streets of Lahore, Inspector Faraz returns to his birthplace, the red-light district in the ancient walled city where women still pass on the profession of courtesan to their daughters. Plucked from it as a small boy by his influential father, Faraz has kept his roots well hidden. Now his father has sent him back: to cover up the murder of a young prostitute.

It should be a simple task in the marginalised community, but Faraz finds himself unable to obey orders or to resist searching for the mother and sister he left behind. Chasing down the walled city’s labyrinthine alleys for answers that risk shattering his carefully constructed existence, he is unaware that his sister faces having to return too, and to a life she thought she had escaped.

As riveting as it is thought-provoking, as profoundly intimate as it is wide in scope, The Return of Faraz Ali poses a timeless question: whom do we choose to protect, and at what price?


A gripping read - everything beautifully evoked, from the alleys of the Old City to the atmosphere of corruption and secrets.
Kamila Shamsie (August 2021)
Aamina Ahmad has done the impossible: made her literary debut with an enduring classic. Essential and compelling.
Adam Johnson (September 2021)
A rich and deeply moving novel about confronting histories both personal and political . . . Marvellous.
Yaa Gyasi (November 2021)
In The Return of Faraz Ali, Aamina Ahmad moves across borders and through decades to create a mesmerizing portrayal of crimes and coverups in the walled-off world of Lahore's red-light district. That a novel so epic in scope can remain so intimate at heart is nothing short of astonishing.
Anthony Marra (November 2021)
The Return of Faraz Ali heralds the arrival of a strikingly accomplished and mature talent. Aamina Ahmad has managed to meld fast-paced, intelligent noir with a devastating portrait of the true costs of ambition and desire. A gripping read that does not let you go, even after the end.
Maaza Mengiste (November 2021)
This novel has everything a reader could ask for: a sizzling, noirlike plot; political intrigue juxtaposed with a rich intergenerational family saga; capacious, conflicted characters, including women who may be marginalized by society but are masters of their own narratives; and sublime sentences. A debut novelist, Ahmad manages this complexity seamlessly. A feat of storytelling not to be missed.
A layered, fascinating portrait of a fractured family and of Pakistan. An impressive, gripping debut.
Antonia Senior, The Times
Stunning, not only on account of the author's talent, of which there is clearly plenty, but also in its humanity, in how a book this unflinching in its depiction of class and institutional injustice can still feel so tender . . . The fullness of the characters and their intersecting lives make this far more than a murder mystery . . . Ahmad's compassion, her deep care for the psychological and emotional nuances of her characters, never wavers . . . It extends through generations and transformations of place, all the way to a devastating final chapter, fully human, fully engaged with what makes us human.
Omar El Akkad, New York Times Book Review