Updated on May 19, 2015
30. ‘The Scatter Here is Too Great’ by Bilal Tanweer
I love books like this, where you have to piece together a narrative and you never stay with one character for longer than a few chapters. Of course, the structure is particularly effective in this book – a story about the lives affected by a bomb blast in Karachi – because it lends the entire narrative a sense of imminent danger. Once you’ve read one or two chapters you know that the blast is going to happen to each character, but you just don’t know when.
There are plenty of fantastic characters in Scatter. There’s a madman on a bus, a police officer abusing his position of power, and a young man interested in wooing young women (and not letting his mother find out about it).
Many of these characters link up in unexpected ways, so you see someone from the outside to begin with, make a judgement about them, and then have your judgement turned on its head when you finally get access to their thoughts.
Ever pleasing to me, there are also some slightly surreal, magical elements, such as the mysterious figures that are found creeping through the rubble after the blast, and who one unfortunate boy takes to be signals of the end of the world.
My favourite chapter, however, was told from the point of view of a small boy. He looks after his pet chicks, listens to his sister’s fairy stories and wonders where she sneaks off to during the day – when he finds out the consequences are tragic. This entire section of the book is an immaculately crafted loss of innocence tale.
If twisted, fragmented stories are your cup of tea, I can guarantee you won’t regret reading this book. It’s absorbing and interesting with moments of absolute brilliance.
“Now her stories ended with strange problems like sadnesses that couldn’t be cured.”
If you liked my review, why not read the book and let me know what you think?