Monday, May 11, 2015

Book Review | The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto

   The Shadow of the Crescent Moon by Fatima Bhutto
February 27, 2014
Fatima Bhutto’s stunning debut novel chronicles the lives of five young people trying to live and love in a world on fire. Set during the American invasion of Afghanistan, The Shadow of the Crescent Moon begins and ends one rain-swept Friday morning in Mir Ali, a small town in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas close to the Afghan border.
In this beautifully observed novel, individuals are pushed to make terrible choices. And as the events of this single morning unfold, one woman is at the center of it all. ~ Goodreads

It is no surprise that Fatima Bhutto found her voice in the literary world. Coming from one of Pakistan’s political family, she had firsthand knowledge and experience of a turmoil-ridden country. Hence, the conviction and yearning to put words into paper.

THE SHADOW OF THE CRESCENT MOON will unfold in three (3) hours in the morning of the Eid holiday. Through Bhutto’s writing, Mir Ali, a town in the tribal region of Waziristan bordering Afghanistan, will come alive –tangible and fully-experienced. A place where it is “hard not to die” and “Everything – success, comfort, respect – felt out of reach [in Mir Ali].”  

Bhutto described the generations of injustice and aggression suffered by the town’s people. From every angle and scene described, poverty is the least of the people’s problem, and only independence from the ruling military government will end all their sufferings.

You will have to pay for your choices…

Three brothers are used to represent the people of Mir Ali, and, maybe, the whole of Pakistan itself. The eldest wished to leave everything behind and start afresh someplace else; the next one prefers to stay and live with the sufferings to care for the people; while the youngest stays and fights as brutally as he sees fit.

Obviously, the novel is not an easy read. Dread and sadness envelopes each scenario. It is narrated in a haltingly detached manner and cryptic language, withholding enough information to build the tension. Somehow, despite the sudden shifts in the timeline, the anxious thoughts and feelings never left. It highlighted the heaviness of the subject matter. Part of me wished that this novel tied up neatly in the end, but I also know it’s too much to ask, because of the current difficulties and devastation brought by the war in Pakistan today.

But the shadow of that moon never faded over Mir Ali. It hung over its sky night after night, condemning the town to life under its shadow.

The novel has the political air to it, but it is undeniably more about human lives. This is an affecting read; the torrent of pain, anguish, and wrath are both inescapable and moving.

Book details:
Title: The Shadow of the Crescent Moon
Author:  Fatima Bhutto
Publication:  Penguin, 2013
Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
Rating:  3 1/2 stars

*Thanks to Penguin Press for the opportunity to read this.


  1. I remember Benazir Bhutto from grade school social studies. Hehehe. I knew the author's name sounded familiar. :)

    1. The author is Benazir's niece, but people knows her better as former girlfriend of George Clooney. :)