I recently read Saadia Faruqi’s collection of short stories, Brick Walls: Tales of Hope and Courage from Pakistan. You can find the book here. This compilation offered me a valuable shift in perspective by providing a glimpse into the lives of people who are representative of the Pakistani people. I was privileged to receive such an opportunity to peer into the lives and hearts of individuals from a culture so often misrepresented by Western media.
At first, I picked up this book because it piqued my interest. It purports to offer a glimpse of ordinary people who live beneath the veneer of our perceptions fostered by media and politics.
I was not disappointed. I hesitate to use the word ‘charming’ in the same sentence as I speak about these deeply emotive stories, because they are not winsical or superficial. Each short tale is a glimpse into the life of an individual living in a country so often misunderstood. Faruqi paints an unsuspected world, offering details of the struggles and joys of people from every class of Pakistani society–rich and privileged or poor and in want of basic life needs.
My only complaint of this wonderful collection by Faruqi is that the stories often ended before I was ready to let go of the characters. I wanted to know more, and wanted to continue to experience their perspective.
All in all, this is a fantastic compilation, and one I recommend to all readers. It provides a much-needed alternative to the terse narrative of the international focus or other sources too often tinged with nationalistic agendas. This is the power of fiction.