I am delighted to be taking my turn today on the blog tour for In the Company of Strangers by Awais Khan. Thank you to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part.
About the book…
Let us take a step into Lahore, a city of extremes. Amongst the wealthy we find Mona, a woman who appears to have everything but is in truth merely existing within a gilded cage.
Her turbulent and often violent relationship with her husband leaves her searching for emotional fulfilment and a wider sense of purpose.
Reconnecting with an older college friend Meera takes her life in a new and unexpected direction. Meera is glamorous, successful and embroiled in a risky world. She introduces Mona to Ali, a younger intriguing model.
Ali is struggling with his own demons, both past and present. Finding himself drawn to to Mona, despite the differences in age and circumstance, and so begins a dangerous game of love and deceit.
For Ali has has once turned his back on the world of modelling and parties. It is only the immediate and desperate needs of his family that pull him back into this world. His return is triumphant but there are continual references to past secrets and an air of foreboding hangs over the novel.
Mona too is a woman with a past. Just why has she been out of contact with Meera for so long? Moving further away from her successful but cruel husband Bilhal, bypassing his clumsy attempts at rekindling their marriage, her friendship with Meera seems from the outset to be doomed.
Appearances through out this novel are very definitely deceptive. Everything that glitters is certainly not gold, and nobody gets something for nothing. A lesson that Ali is to learn to his very great cost.
For in addition to tangled pasts and illicit affairs a much darker beast is stalking Lahore, and indeed Pakistan as a whole.
The reign of terror and its associations run through out the book. They provide the motivation for Ali’s return to the limelight when his younger brother is critically injured. Throughout we encounter underlying causes of terrorism and it’s very human cost.
One of the strengths of this book is the fact that it doesn’t operate on simple principles of good and evil. Whilst there is no glorification of the its horrors it acknowledges and explore the complexities of terrorism and the things that accompany it.
Ali’s storyline is poignant, thought provoking and sheds a shaft of light on some of the real and terrifying choices people are making everyday in order to preserve their loved ones and their way of life.
In the Company of Strangers is a an unlikely and illuminating love story, set against a backdrop of complexity and duality. There is nothing predictable in its pages and it will leave you guessing to the last, as it’s characters try to pick their way through their tangled lives.
About the author…
Awais Khan is a graduate of Western University and Durham Univeristy. Whilst studying at Faber Academy, London, he began working on In The Company of Strangers which is his first novel.
His work has appeared in Daily Times, Missing Slate Magazine and MODE. He is the founder of The Writing Institute, one of the largest institutions dedicated to Creative Writing in Pakistan.
And there is more…
For more reviews and reactions to In The Company of Strangers check out the blogs below for the rest of the tour.