Title: The Scatter Here Is Too Great
Author: Bilal Tanweer
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Genre: Short Stories, Literary Fiction, Cultural Fiction (South Asian)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
In this series of interconnected short stories, Bilal Tanweer depicts a day in the life of modern citizens of Karachi, Pakistan, and shows how each of them are affected by a bomb blast at the Karachi train station.
Tanweer’s debut, The Scatter Here Is Too Great, shows a lot of promise through the way it brings modern-day Karachi to life and shows the resignation and determination of the many characters who populate the novel. The stories themselves can be uneven from one to the next, but fans of South Asian fiction should definitely consider picking this collection up.
Bilal Tanweer’s debut novel The Scatter Here Is Too Great is full of the bustling life of Karachi, where life goes on, even in the midst of devastating events. Tanweer does a great job bringing this colorful city to life; the reader sees it from many different points of view, and it’s very interesting. Tanweer’s love for modern-day Karachi comes through in the novel’s pages, making the sights and smells of the city a visceral experience.
This isn’t a novel so much as a set of short stories about different people in Pakistan; they have little in common, though isolation and problems with fathers seem to be a common thread. They are from all walks of life, but they all have a similar attitude towards life, a resignation at living in a city where tragedy has become an accepted part of daily life. This book isn’t about a bomb blast so much as it is about how this has become routine in Karachi, how violence has become an all-too-often occurrence, and that these characters have had to become accustomed to it. It’s an interesting point of view, to be sure, and Tanweer manages to write it without turning these stories into a political statement.
The quality of the stories in The Scatter Here Is Too Great is uneven; some stories leap off the page, vibrant and thoroughly engaging, while others fall a bit flat. Additionally, the organization of the stories and structure of the book is a bit odd; it can be difficult to tell where one story ends and another begins, which can be confusing. Overall, though, the collection surely shows promise, and it will be interesting to see what Tanweer does next. Fans of South Asian fiction and those interested in the dynamics of modern-day Karachi should consider picking this book up.