The South Asian Life & Times - SALT   
  Spring 2014          



 Spring 2014


Editor's Note

 Arctic to Antarctic
 - Overland

  Great Himalaya Trail 

India Art Fair 2014

 Nirav Modi 

 Magic of Sorcars

 Tino Sehgal

  Nina Davuluri

 Ravindra Salve

 Threatened Tribes

 Tribal Victories 2013

 - Dongria Kondh

 - Jarawas

 - Soliga

 Indian Painting


 And the Mountains

 A God in Every Stone

 Beloved Strangers

 I Am Malala 












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 Book Review

A God In Every Stone

By Kamila Shamsie
Bloomsbury Publishing

Reviewed by Anita Yadav

A God In Every Stone surprises the reader by its spiral narrative movements along historical periods ranging from 515 B.C to 1947. In the opening narrative about Sylax from The Histories by Herodotus, there is use of free verse to convey topographical details and movement

“down the sloping desert  of the mountain across the jewelled valley of streams and fields and fruit to land! In the muddled tributary...........the crocodile filled Indus “

The reader feels as if an enchanted journey has begun.

References to great story tellers are drawn to make us feel that a great tale is being told. Vivian Rose, one of the central characters in the novel, easily quotes from Pliny, Aelian, Syclax, Herodotus. She invokes Homer’s description of “a rosy fingered dawn’ as she watches the sunrise on the first day of her journey in Labauranda. As we progress, Vivian Spencer draws on  works of all travellers .The Street of Story tellers and the genre of Daastan Goi become the backdrop to later events involving Najib and Qayyum Gul, Viv , Diwa and the Khudai Khidmatgars.  

Kamila Shamsie has done deep research to effectively juxtapose Greek history with Gandhara art and history. Her characters straddle ancient history, World War I and the movement by Abdul Ghaffar Khan while trying to come to terms with their changing lives. Her work is reminiscent of another writer from the subcontinent-Amitav Ghosh , whose works show similar scholarly workmanship. Reading A God In Every Stone is learning about archaeological and social-political history too.

The book is remarkable in its use of imagery and symbols. The figs and olives of the time with Tashin Bey, and the rotting flesh and metals of the hospitals in London give way to the fragrance of jasmines and roses of Peshawar and the severed limbs and lorries filled with bodies of rebellious Pathans. Tashin Bey’s emphasis of putting loyalty to the people he loves above loyalty to the crown is reverberated in Quyyum and Kalaam. Vivian rose was brought up as a son and tried to do what a son could. Diwa, a burqa clad  teenager is able to achieve what Vivian could not. Najeeb carries the mantel of Tashin Bey in his search for the Circlet of Syclax. Kamila Shamsie effectively binds the narrative even though it straddles across thousands of centuries. Reading the book is like a journey across time.



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