Stranger to History

Stranger to History

A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands

Book - 2009
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As a child, all Aatish Taseer ever had of his father was his photograph in a browning silver frame. Raised by his Sikh mother in Delhi, his Pakistani father remained a distant figure, almost a figment of his imagination, until Aatish crossed the border when he was twenty-one to finally meet him. 

Inthe years that followed, the relationship between father and son revived, then fell apart. For Aatish, their tension had not just to do with the tensions of a son rediscovering his absent father -- they were intensified by the fact that Aatish was Indian, his father Pakistani and Muslim. It had complicated his parents' relationship ; now it complicated his.

The relationship forced Aatish to ask larger questions: Why did being Muslim mean that your allegiances went out to other Muslims before the citizens of your own country? Why did his father, despite claiming to be irreligious, describe himself as a 'cultural Muslim'? Why did Muslims see modernity as a threat? What made Islam a trump identity? 

Stranger to History  is the story of the journey Aatish made to answer these questions -- starting from Istanbul, Islam's once greatest city, to Mecca, its most holy, and then home, through Iran and Pakistan. Ending in Lahore, at his estranged father's home, on the night Benazir Bhutto was killed, it is also the story of Aatish's own divided family over the past fifty years. Part memoir, part travelogue, probing, stylish and troubling,  Stranger to History  is an outstanding debut.

' I had sought out my father because I couldn't live with the darkness of not knowing him. If I hadn't, all my life I would have had to cover it up with some idea of him taken from my mother on faith. I felt it would have limited me. History should never be taken on faith.'
Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, 2009.
ISBN: 9780771084256
Branch Call Number: 910.91767 TAS
Characteristics: 323 pages : map ; 23 cm

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ChristchurchLib Feb 13, 2013

"The only child of a single Indian mother (a successful Delhi journalist), British-born Aatish Taseer didn't get to know his estranged Muslim father (a Pakistani politician and businessman) until he was 21 - and he didn't really connect with the man, his culture, or his religion. In a personal quest to better understand his father and what it means to be Muslim in the 21st century, Taseer travelled throughout the Islamic world, from Turkey to Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan. Though previously published in the U.K., this first U.S. edition is complemented by a new introduction by Taseer that addresses his father's 2011 murder as an enemy of the Muslim faith after defending a Christian Pakistani woman. Readers seeking a poignant, personal, and eye-opening look at the modern Islamic world will enjoy this book." February 2012 Armchair Travel newsletter http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=599837

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