Reading guide for The Return of Faraz Ali by Aamina Ahmad

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The Return of Faraz Ali

A Novel

by Aamina Ahmad

The Return of Faraz Ali by Aamina Ahmad X
The Return of Faraz Ali by Aamina Ahmad
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2022, 352 pages

    Apr 2023, 352 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. By virtue of his history and lineage, Faraz Ali is a man without a secure identity or place in the world. How does his sense of contingency reflect on the society in which he lives? How does the mission with which he is charged at the outset of the book become a quest to claim, or reclaim, a more genuine sense of self?
  2. At times, the book is told from the perspective of Faraz's father, Wajid, as a young man fighting in Africa during World War II. How does this history add to our understanding of who Wajid becomes, and how does it color the relationship between him and Faraz?
  3. In addition to the father-son relationship, the book explores mother-daughter relationships, primarily between Firdous and Rozina, and Rozina and Mina. How does each mother wrestle with the question of how to provide for her daughter? How does each daughter attempt to assert her independence and her desire to forge her own path?
  4. In many ways, the plot of the novel is driven by secrets—who keeps them from whom, and what happens when they are revealed, but also how they can divide people or bring them together. What observations does the book seem to be making about the power, consequences, and costs of secrets?
  5. Rozina, Faraz's sister, presents a heartbreaking paradox. In what senses has she broken free of the constraints imposed by her background? In what sense has she fallen victim to them? How did you feel about the ultimate resolution she finds for her life?
  6. Several characters are asked to make extraordinary sacrifices for their families and the people they love—or to protect some loved ones at the expense of others. Is it worth it? In each case, why or why not?
  7. The author, Aamina Ahmad, has said that at its heart this is "a story that is interested in the politics of power. Who has it, who doesn't, and what you have to do to get it." How does this idea express itself in the novel? Which characters have power and which do not? Has the balance shifted at all at the end?
  8. Ghazi, Wajid's old acquaintance who served with him in the war, is responsible for some of the book's most devastating acts of violence. What does his presence bring to the story? How does it reflect on the other characters and their moral triumphs and failures?

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Riverhead Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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