Book 22: This house of clay and water by Faiqa Mansab


“As a child, laughter is all you need as proof of happiness. As a child you don’t know there are so many different kinds of laughter—like different varieties of birds. Some are flightless.”

This debut novel, ‘This house of clay and water’ , by Faiqa Mansab, has many such original and intelligent remarks which would make you think and reflect deeply at the pathetic and real state of  human minds.

About the author:

Faiqa Mansab is a Pakistani author who obtained MFA in creative writing from  Kingston University, London.  Her thesis, which was written for the course, formed the basis for this novel, which was initially rejected by many publishers in UK and USA before getting published finally by Penguin Random House. She currently teaches creative writing in Lahore and is working on her second novel.

About the book:

The story is about the lives of two women, Sasha and Nida, in the city of Lahore.

Sasha is a woman who  takes pleasure in defying religion and patriarchy.  In the beginning  she is introduced as somebody who lives life on her own terms. But as the story progresses, we shockingly see a Sasha who changes and becomes religious and God fearing, resigning to her fate of being stuck with a ‘boring’ husband and feeling guilty for her past actions. Change in her personality happens after a personal tragedy strikes. Women, irrespective of whether they are in New Delhi or Lahore, are taught to feel guilty for living a life of their choice.

Nina, Sasha’s friend, is educated, philosophical but with orthodox beliefs somehow feels that Sasha should not be leading a ‘carefree’ life. But later you find Nida listening to her heart and ending up having a love affair with Bhanggi who is a person of third gender. As the story evolves we see the change in the attitude of these two women who are friends.

Why I enjoyed this book:

The foremost reason is that this book depicts the life of women in Lahore; the same city from where I have a new friend! (Of course I do it both ways: Sometimes I find a friend first and then try procuring books written by authors in that person’s country; sometimes I read books by authors from a different country and then try making friends from that country!)I am convinced that  borders(at least the ones in your mind!) can be obliterated by books.

May be for a person from Lahore,  this book could appear superfluous but for an outsider like me, this book provides a decent  chance to ‘palpate’ the pulse of Lahore city.

Across borders, state, thoughts and aspirations of women remain pretty much the same.

In this era when many Indians yearn for a war to ‘teach’ Pakistani people a lesson, when a cricket match between the two countries simulates a war like situation and when no scope exists for any dialogue between the two countries, I feel the only way to arrest the spread of malicious thoughts, is to promote cross-border literature and art. I still believe that writers and artists can do what rulers cannot.




One thought on “Book 22: This house of clay and water by Faiqa Mansab

  1. Love the review! I’ll be reading this one as I am writing a book that takes a lot of inspiration from India culturally and from Lahore, given it’s architecture. I’ve been finding a lot of fictional books written India, though this is the one about Lahore itself. Clearly I’ve not been looking hard enough :P. Know anymore? Either way, keep it up!!


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