Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Review: Songs of blood and sword

'Writing a book is the best revenge.'
I finished reading Fatima Bhutto’s Songs of Blood and Sword about two months ago. While reading it, I took a lot of notes wishing to review it for my blog. The day, when I was about to write the review a landlord acquaintance of mine came from Lahore. This person, lets call me him AZJ for easy reference, is the son of an army general who was good friends with Mr and Mrs Asif Ali Zardari.
Seeing the book lying on my study table, AZJ recalled the night Fatima’s father Murtaza Bhutto was savagely killed in Karachi. General’s son was engaged that night and was taking his would-be in-laws on a dinner.
AZJ’s sister was Fatima’s class felow in a Karachi school. AZJ quoted Benazir telling his sister at London airport that “She (Fatima) thinks of me what I think of general Ziaul Haq.” The London airport meeting took place during the life of Murtaza. It was evident from Benazir’s remarks that she and her brother had differences on almost all the issues and they both had reached at the point of no return.
Although an avid reader, AZJ claimed he hadn’t read the book, but said that it must be a good piece of fiction.
Fatima has quoted many people in her book on her father. All the people quoted in the book are national or international figures. Among those, I know Dr Ghulam Hussain. He was PPP’s general secretary during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s life. Dr Hussain, a die hard PPP worker, also remained in jail during the Zia regime. To the extent of Dr Ghulam, what Fatima has quoted is true. Similarly, the other people quoted by her in her book are also public figures and they have been quoted in press on many occasions. Therefore, we can easily remove this notion of fiction from the book.
Fatima has done a lot of research before writing the book. She travelled to various countries, tracing the exile-days of her father Murtaza and uncle Shahnawaz. She met people who sheltered the two brothers during their hard days. She takes the reader on a walk through ups and downs of the Bhutto family.
At times, she adopts the attitude of a western writer who cares least about our eastern sensitivities and at times she lets the eastern sensitivities over-power her pen.
She has tried not to malign any of her aunts. Fatima has relied heavily on press reports published during and after the life of her father. She has candidly discussed the love life of her father and uncle during their days in exile. I recommend this book for the reason that it is the result of the laborious research, which in fact is very rare in Pakistan where even teachers don’t mind plagirism. The writer is highly opinionated about Pakistani society and politics. I would recommend this book to all everyone who admires his/her father and sees a hero in him.

1 comment:

  1. wow..... great review n interesting book
    one must read it bcx as per ur review it encompass every emotion feeling n incident that is true n research based so must be more over powering n forceful in impact over readers