Summary and book reviews of The Geometry of God by Uzma Aslam Khan

The Geometry of God

By Uzma Aslam Khan

The Geometry of God
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  • Paperback: Sep 2009,
    386 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

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Book Summary

Amal: the practical sister who digs up the "diamond key" that unlocks the mystery of Pakicetus, a whale-dog creature who once swam the ancient seas that are now Pakistan.
Mehwish: the blind younger sister, who moves with the sun and music inside her and thinks in "cup lits not fully legal."
Zahoor: their heretical grandfather, a scientist who loves variation and "vim zee" and his two granddaughters most of all.
Noman: the young man who steps into a lecture hall, decides "their triangle needs a fourth point," and changes all their lives.

These are the four shifting chambers who make the heart of The Geometry of God, the new novel from lauded Pakistani writer Uzma Aslam Khan. Through these vivid, contradictory, and original characters, Khan celebrates the complexities of familial and erotic love, the tug of curiosity and duty, the intersections of faith and longing. Her exuberant language draws from Urdu and Punjabi and invents one of its own for Mehwish, whose fractured English divides and slows and reveals.

The Geometry of God is a novel one can read greedily, following these characters as their lives unfold against the backdrop of General Zia's Pakistan, where religious fundamentalism gains ground and the mujaheddin is funded by gem sales and the Americans. Or one can savor, as the sisters show us: digging as Amal does toward the novel's deepest questions about love and knowledge and faith, moving as Mehwish does to the rhythms of an abundant and original language.

Amal


Love makes me lazy, as if I always have a full stomach. Our foreplay—or bo’s-o-kanar, as Omar lovingly calls it, shedding his manly Punjabi pride to ladylike Urdu—is lavish and fat. Pretending to be at our own private court, we massage each other like Mughals. (The King’s Hammam, now in ruins, is just around the corner.) The oil has a rich, woody scent. I take my time around his neck, watching those clitoral nipples stiffen. Even stroking the soles of his feet won’t get such joyous results. He giggles and protests and feeds me falsa berries, strawberries, lychees. I learn to taste. Item by item, the way I watched Mehwish’s baby spit flower under a lens. (If the wonder of our childhood has helped make me a more attentive lover, Mehwish will love well. I learn to taste and so will she.) […]

“My religious vocabulary’s Urdu–Arabic, social vocabulary Urdu–English, but sexual vocabulary only English, while yours—”

&#...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

Reading The Geometry of God was an experience of total immersion, not because I read it in two days but because of the power of the writing and the voices of its four main characters... The story circles through each character's perception of events, like a piece of improvisational music, sifting through the themes of religion vs. science, imagination vs. doing, intellect vs. the senses, and freedom vs. duty. Despite layers of history and decades of turmoil, both love and intelligence prevail. Uzma Aslam Khan presents a convincing case for knowledge and dialogue as the diamond keys to human and international understanding.   (Reviewed by Judy Krueger).

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Media Reviews
The Washington Times, Claire Hopley

Throughout this complex narrative, Ms. Khan writes with unfailing intelligence and linguistic magic. For Westerners, she unlocks doors and windows onto Pakistan and its Islamic culture.....Certainly, most readers will find traditions and ideas that are new to them in this skillful and challenging volume.

O, The Oprah Magazine

Khan's urgent defense of free thought and action - women - courses through every page of this gorgeously complex book; but what really draws the reader in is the way Mehwish taste-tests the words she hears, as if they were pieces of fruit, and probes the meaning of human connection in a culture of intolerance, but also of stubborn hope.

Publishers Weekly

Too many anecdotes make an otherwise interesting storyline a bear to read.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. The author's take on fundamentalism can be polemic, but the characters, the poetry and the philosophical questions she raises are rendered with a power and beauty that make this novel linger in the mind and heart.

First City (India)

The Geometry of God is a novel that you don't just read; you listen to it. It can be irreverent, perverse. It can speak with a whole, fluid beauty. It can be curious, wondrous, noncompliant, like the English in Mehwish's head... Mehwish is the zauq of the book, the sensory pulse of the novel, who pulls you into a world of her own making. Expect a simultaneous rush that has funniness, absurdity, shock, tenderness... (and) great sex.

Dawn (Pakistan)

Uzma Aslam Khan has boldly tapped uncharted themes in her latest book, The Geometry of God. She carves a sublime story of new and old with contemporary panache, in which people are real and their fears are prevalent and believable. Khan weaves a complex story whose narrative has a casual energy to it: each voice telling his or her story. Khan is not afraid to say anything.

Author Blurb Nadeem Aslam
Such wonderful and persuasive writing. No one writes like her about the body, about the senses, about the physical world. Uzma Aslam Khan is the writer whose new novel I look forward to the most.

Author Blurb Kamila Shamsie
Elegant, sensuous and fiercely intelligent, The Geometry of God takes an argument that is in danger of becoming stale--that of fundamentalism vs. free thinking among Muslims--and animates it in a wonderfully inventive story that pits science against politics and the freedom of women against the insecurities of men.

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Listening to and looking at Pakistan

This book is Uzma Aslam Khan's third novel. One of her goals as a woman and a Pakistani is to undo formulaic assumptions about her homeland as well as to aid in the struggle for self- ownership, self-representation, and intellectual recognition of women. She writes passionately about this purpose in her essay, "Women and Fiction Today."

She also urges her readers to understand the complexity that is Pakistan today by first admitting our preconceptions about it and then being willing to shed them; to listen and to look. Instead of only relying on our major news outlets, what should we listen to? Where should we look? For a start listen to some qawali and Sufi music. At TheSufi.com ...

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