Goodreads blurb: A vivid and intricate novel-in-stories, The Scatter Here Is Too Great explores the complicated lives of ordinary people whose fates unexpectedly converge after a deadly bomb blast at the Karachi train station: an old communist poet; his wealthy, middle-aged son; a young man caught in an unpleasant, dead-end job; a girl who spins engaging tales to conceal her heartbreak; and a grief-stricken writer, who struggles to make sense of this devastating tragedy.
Bilal Tanweer reveals the pain, loneliness, and longing of these characters and celebrates the power of the written word to heal lives and communities plagued by violence. Elegantly weaving together different voices into a striking portrait of a city and its people, The Scatter Here Is Too Great is a tale as vibrant and varied in its characters, passions, and idiosyncrasies as the city itself.
In this extremely unconventional book, the author Bilal Tanweer takes up the theme of belonging (or more like ‘not belonging’) of the characters to the city of Karachi. Using multiple points of view, he weaves various threads together to form a multi-colored tapestry of the city of Karachi, using the bomb blast at the Cantt Station as the pivotal event around which the narratives revolve around.
Well, if the above paragraph was confusing, I don’t blame you too much as the narrative itself is intended to be quite so; extremely unconventional, not following norms of the usual structured narrative arc that most novels follow, The Scatter Here Is Too Great is a book to be enjoyed and relished like no other. It makes you think like no other book can with its characters constantly looking inwards, into mirrors of their own personalities, their innermost desires, their worst fears, their motivations, etc.
The various stories of the characters range from estranged children to teenage love to defeated communists trying to make peace with their life-choices.
One common theme though which resonates through the book is the lament for the simpler times gone by and the gradual descent of the city of Karachi into one which none of the protagonists seem to recognize as the one from their childhood memories. And through these characters, the author seems to have highlighted his own longing for simpler times, and the city of Karachi from his memories which still resonates deeply within him.
Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in return for a honest and unbiased review.