'THE Wishmaker' is a refreshing new novel from a promising young Pakistani writer named Ali Sethi.
The author has managed to capture the essense of the Pakistani society in a simple yet beautiful story. His narrative is free flowing and his characters drawn from the average middle class family of the country.
The protogonist Zaki Shirazi returns to his roots in Lahore, from US, to attend the wedding of a cousin and childhood friend Samar Api. He discovers that life has changed in the city. Also, a military general is once again at the helm of national affairs. Amidst the celeberations, he takes a journey back in time to his growing up years.
As a young boy in Lahore, Zaki witnessed the rise of Benazir Bhutto. He even attended some political protests against the military with his journalist mother.
Zaki spent the maximum time with his cousin Samar Api. With her he shared a love for Hindi films and American soaps. Samar's own life was under teh influence of the serials and films she watched. Things take a disastrous turn when Zaki supports one of Samar's romantic schemes. And this is when Zaki comes of age and starts to see things on his own.
The novel has its poignant moments in Samar's Daadi remembering her friends Amrita and Seema, and how she loose one of them in the madness of the partition.
The Wishmaker has a feel good quality going about it. It brings in a sense of nostalgia. I am sure people from the Indian sub-continent would relate well with the story.
As a debut novel its an impressive piece of work.