Stranger to History
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Stranger to History
A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands
Written by Aatish TaseerAatish Taseer Author Alert
Category: Biography & Autobiography - Personal Memoirs; History - Middle East; Religion - Islam
Format: Trade Paperback, 336 pages
Publisher: Emblem Editions
ISBN: 978-0-7710-8426-3 (0-7710-8426-9)

Pub Date: February 9, 2010
Price: $21.00

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Stranger to History
Written by Aatish Taseer

Format: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780771084263
Our Price: $21.00
   Quantity: 1 

Also available as an eBook.
About this Book

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. 

In the 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.’

From the Hardcover edition.

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Review Quotes

A subtle and poignant work by a young writer to watch."
— V.S. Naipaul

"Stranger to History is an amazing narrative: a kind of Muslim Odyssey which unfolds before the reader's eyes, bringing revelations, sometimes painful perhaps, but always intensely compelling."
—  Antonia Fraser

"Darts deftly between physical journey and childhood memoir. The paternal relationship he never had becomes the backbone of the book, which is all the better for it. . . .gripping . . ."
—  Literary Review

"The writing is elegant and fluent throughout, the characters skilfully drawn. . . . Stranger to History shines . . ."
The Guardian

"Vivid descriptions of physical settings and insightful interviews . . . outline the challenges of reconciling centuries-old religion and the modern world."
Winnipeg Free Press

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

A Pilgrim’s Prelude

The Licence-plate Game
The Beeston Mail
‘Homo Islamicos’
Syria International: Notes from the Translation Room
Nail Polish
Bhutto’s Footprint
Mecca Reprise: ‘Muslims Only’

Stranger to History
The Tyranny of Trifles
Phone Booth
The Discplinary (sic) Force of the Islamic Republic
Renaissance Now
Nerve Blindness
The Mango King
Contact Paper
Sind 360: The Open Wound
The Idea Country
Articles of Faith
Postscript: Distrust


From the Hardcover edition.

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About this Author

Aatish Taseer was born in 1980 and educated at Amherst College in Massachusetts. He worked as a reporter at Time magazine and has written frequently for Time, The Sunday Times, and Prospect Magazine. He speaks five languages and currently lives between London (England) and New Delhi. This is his first book.

From the Hardcover edition.

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