Under the Tamarind Tree

Books on Tape. Aug. 2023. 10:14 hrs. ISBN 9780593741429. $85.50. F
Alam’s debut traverses two timelines—one in 1960s post-Partition Karachi and the other in 2019. Amid the riots, violence, and upheaval of Partition, Rozeena and her parents escape to Karachi, where some of the fortunate few receive immediate housing. In 1964, Rozeena and her newly acquired best friends, Haaris, Aalya, and Zohair, navigate their new lives while adhering to strict rules of conduct and class. Then, a welcome home ball for Haaris, who has been studying abroad, brings radical and long-lasting change to all their lives. In 2019, Haaris, now living in the United States, asks Rozeena to befriend his granddaughter Zara, who is visiting Karachi for the summer. Rozeena agrees, and Zara shows up at Rozeena’s place every day, mostly to get away from her parents. Their friendship blossoms but also threatens to reveal long-held secrets about the past. Narrator Sneha Mathan delivers the story with emotion and sensitivity, bringing the characters to life and capturing Alam’s vividly described landscape. Mathan nimbly moves between the two timelines, drawing listeners into this story of generational trauma, class and caste prohibitions, and the unforeseen consequences of deception.
VERDICT A beautifully told tale, offering a compelling love story and insight into Partition and its aftermath.
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