lives

 

Raza, a poor orphan trapped in the slums of Pakistan, is sent to a strict madrassah where he meets and falls in love with Perveen. They attempt to flee the city to escape their respective fates but fail. Perveen, pregnant, is sent back to her family, and Raza is sent to Afghanistan to fight as a Taliban solider. American journalist, Rachael Brown, travels to Afghanistan to cover the political unrest. When she meets Raza for a brief interview, she sees for the first time the true face of the Taliban: poor and desperate young men with nowhere else to go. As the war unfolds, their paths cross again, and each must decide what they owe the other.

Publisher: Roundfire Books (July 27, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1785357840
ISBN-13: 978-1785357848 

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With his brilliant novel Entangled Lives, Imran Omer puts a human face on a subject otherwise overwhelmed by propaganda on all sides. In a story as exciting as it is important, as sad as it is hopeful, we can begin to understand the all too human personal tragedies behind a generation of war. Philip Athans, bestselling author

****

Entangled Lives ignites a fire of curiosity about Omer’s intimately portrayed characters, believably real people in the cultures we read so much about, yet about whom we understand so little. The shifts in narrator conveys the author’s amazing capacity to delve into the mind of a man or woman, entwined in the web of war, unravelling the fear, love, and passion we can grasp universally. A MUST read. Liese Ricketts, photographer and educator.

****

Jane Smiley (author of Private Life and Some Luck) said that “in our dangerous world, the freedom and empathy that fiction develops in its remains essential.” She was defining how fiction has the power to show us not only human truth, but to make us feel the power of that truth. And she goes on to explain that “reading fiction is and always was about learning to see the world through often quite alien perspectives.” And that brings us to Omer’s Entangled Lives. A novel that shows the interconnections between a journalist, a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan, and the lives that are tangled between these two main protagonists.

Through the unfolding war, [these] two unlikely strangers meet in an epic meeting of fate. The result is how two people from the most unlikely places can change the course of life. In a time of labels, stereotypes, and socio-politic polarization, this novel brings to focus the complexity and dynamics watching your life change in the currents of political and social change.

Novels are meant to connect more than just a telling of events, they are designed to immerse the reader into something more, to draw out empathy, character, and truth in terms of universal qualities. Jane Smiley explains it as the “reading fiction is and always was a practice in empathy” which cuts down those stereotypes, that changes are vision of the world, and shows us the universal struggles that is so easy to cast off, turn into a sound byte, or shape into political divisions. Entangled Lives is a connective novel that shifts views and shows the intersection of two worlds in face of the darkest moments in our lives. Set in the Middle East and focused about two unlikely people in the face of great odds, this novel compares to The Kite Runner and Girls of Riyadh. Ron Samul | Ron Samul Reviews

****

This novel should be required reading for all westerners. 

Imran Omer puts a very human face on 'the Enemy' by showing us the way young boys are indoctrinated and abused then sold to the Taliban as fresh young 'soldiers' for their cause, never really knowing what they are doing, or why they are doing it. 

Raza, a very believable character, is raised and isolated in a Pakistani madrassah run by a fanatical and abusive Mullah, then sold across the border into Afghanistan as a Talib. 

The writer states in more than one place in the novel that not all madrassahs are like this and we learn something about the history/culture/poverty of the area and that there are many different cultural groups there with good and bad/extremists among them as with every other country, religion and group of people. 

Raza's whole life is a tragedy, from conception to imminent demise, and whatever he does in order to survive, the reader cannot help but understand and feel for the way he is treated/used and his lack of freedom to choose his own path. 

Even the final points, where his innate empathy and morality win through, where he and an American journalist become the 'Entangled Lives' of the title, ultimately lead to his incarceration, torture and expected death in Guantanamo Bay detention centre......yet because of this entanglement we see an exchange of mercy, kindness and empathy which gives us hope for the human race in general. 

Highly recommended reading, written simply but well, in a way that would be accessible to all who were willing to open their hearts and minds to the fact that a person is not necessarily 'bad because they fight for someone or something which one is against. The novel most certainly makes you think - about all soldiers and all war. Beverly Coles | NetGalley

****

This book tells the story of Raza and Perveen who grow up in a madrassah, which they try unsucessfully to escape. Raza is ultimately forced to travel to Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban. Twice, in different circumstances, he meets Rachael, an American Journalist.

The narration of the story switches between Raza and Rachael. I found Rachael's narration to be extremely absorbing and one which read almost asa memoir. In fact, the whole book has the feeling of a true story, I suppose because, in part, it is based on real conflict and recent history. It is tragically sad in parts, but is also one of those books which gives you a glimpse into a different culture and a very, very different way of life.

Thank you to Netgalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Elaine D | NetGalley

****

5/5 Stars. The author gives the reader an inside look at how many of the soldiers that fight for the Taliban are brainwashed and forced into obedience. The story follows Raza, a young Pakistani lad who through poverty and abandonment ends up in a strict madrasah. There he was abused and beaten for any minor misbehaviours. He sees and falls in love with Preveen, and they try unsuccessfully to escape. At 17 he's forced to go to Afghanistan to fight with the Taliban. While there he meets Rachael Brown, a war correspondent, once when she interviews him and once in very different circumstances. Their lives become entwined as the title suggest. Very well written and I recommend reading it, but a word of caution, the incidents of brutality are not for the feint hearted. Margaret WilkinsNetGalley 

****

It’s always satisfying when someone does what they say they will do and Roundfire have done it with this novel.
Their claim that. “Put simply we publish great stories” rings true with this work from Imran Omer. His insightful probe into the inner thoughts and beliefs of the Taliban were both informative and alarming and the world is a better place now that they are gone.

Imran blend of cultures, Eastern and Western is seamless and convincing and his character development is well rounded. This is a novel that leaves more questions than it answers and, to my taste, that is exactly how it should be. Wanting more.Brian J | NetGalley | Goodreads

****

Kudos to Imran Omer – he has the audacity to take the perspective of a Taliban fighter (of course not to absolve him from his crimes, but to shine a light on his perceptions) and to confront Western readers with the historic realities of people living in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Most people in the West (me included) do not know enough about these regions, although some local conflicts have been prompted and shaped by Western politics. Just as Arundhati Roy’s The Ministry of Utmost Happiness (in which Kashmir plays an important role), “Entangled Lives” immerses its readers in these conflicts and shows how they affect families over generations........All in all, books like this are extremely important, because they shine a light on historic conflicts Westerners usually don’t know much about (or were you familiar with the recent history of Pakistan?). There is a risk that we grow numb towards the destiny of the people who live in these regions, a destiny that we do not understand because we only see televised bits of it, and Omer is one of the voices who fight against this. Meike | NetGalley | Goodreads

****

A gripping fictional story that could easily be a real account of what happens to survivors of the onslaught of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Told by a reporter who goes to Afghanistan to interview a Taliban soldier captured by American forces, the soldier relays the story of his life while being left behind by his mother, growing up in a madrasa, and losing his child and the woman he loved. 
An emotional and at times, heartbreaking read that will keep you thinking. Jill Dobbe | NetGalley | Goodreads

****

An emotional read that will keep you thinking and rightly so. The conflicts involving countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan are what we only see and get the view point from the media. We never learn about where the hate comes from and why. Raza, one of the main characters in this story grew up in a madrasa in Pakistan after his mother left. The boys at the madrasa were treated badly and became dollars per head to go fight for the Taliban. Most of which didn't understand the war and where hopelessness turned into hate. But not hate targeted towards one individual but a hate in general. Imran Omer's voice is important for us to listen to so that we can truly understand and fight against it. Jude Rabot | NetGalley | Goodreads

****

My main reason for wanting to read this book was to understand the path to becoming a Taliban soldier. The author accomplishes this, and it’s not a happy road to follow. I found this a very interesting and compelling book about a subject that I’m trying to give a face to. Catherine ThomasNetGAlley 

****

This is a well written book with excellent descriptive narrative. It gives an insight into the lives of young Arabs caught up in the conflict and also the culture of their lives. Renee Glass | NetGalley

 

The Broken Promise (novel in progress)

History reinvents us, culture shapes us, and politics either liberates us or send us into the hell of enslavement.

The Broken Promise depicts an awakening in the first half of the twentieth century, an awakening that is still encompassing our lives. The change in the East was in political thought and philosophy of life, whereas the West was at the threshold of new avenues of freedom. The dawn of the new era reinvents the characters of The Broken Promise, destroying the old paths. It is the story of characters that appear from different socioeconomic and cultural backdrops in Britain and colonial India, and interact in the framework of the variables of life to depict a view of that era through their desires, deeds and dilemmas.

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