Between Clay and Dust by Musharraf Ali Farooqi


Between Clay and Dust by Musharraf Ali Farooqi

Pakistan fiction

Musharraf Ali Farooqi is a Pakistani  -Canadian writer ,he briefly studied  engineering at university before turning to writing .He has so far published five novels and some children’s fiction ,one of his previous novels was shortlisted for the south Asian DSC prize and longlist for prestigious Impac prize .He spends his time between Canada and Pakistan ,he is also a translator of books from Urdu to english and is working on an online collection of Urdu Fiction and literature .

Ustad Ramzi was the head of a Pahlwan clan and the custodian of a wrestler’s akhara .He was a man of frugal speech and austere habits and appeared to some a stern man .His imposing stature .a heavy set jaw ,and upturned whiskers only reinforced this impression .He was one of those men who do not accept the futility and emptiness of life ,but who try continuously to give it meaning

Ustad described ,he is one proud chap .

So this was one of the writers that was new to me from this years longlist for the man asian and I may say the biggest surprise for on the surface a novel about wrestling didn’t really appeal .But no this is a great book in fact over christmas I called in my undiscovered Gem of the year .So the book it focus on two brothers Ustad Ramzi and his younger brother Tamami now Ustad is the best wrestler of his time and at his base ,called a Akhari ,he is joined by young men hoping to gleam the knowledge of the master .Now the younger brother is forgotten and considered maybe a bit of a loser and a burden by his older brother .That is part of the book the story of the brothers the other is a challenger to Ustad from another wrestler called Goher Jan he is younger than Ustad and is want Ustad’s postion of respect .A futher strand is to do with the changing face of the place new building old friends leaving and promoters getting involved in the wrestling scene .So as you see this has it all sporting drama ,family saga and commentary on the changing face of Pakistan society not bad for a book of just 212 pages .To find out what happens I suggest you buy it !


During the exhibition bout Ustad Ramzi observed Tamami prolonging the fight with Sher Ali .He angrily left the Akhara when he realized Tamami was doing something he  had expressly forbidden him to do .the trainees followed him .

Ustad sees his brother wrestle and get better but at what cost !

Now I have always been wary of sports related novels as I felt in the past some just don’t catch the feel of the sport or maybe the sport is just a small by line in the story and I ve been disappointed .But this book took a sport that I don’t watch these days I did grow up watch on a Saturday  the rather  they would overact and the action was quite tame at time professional wrestling on British TV in my youth with over the top character like Giant Haystacks and Big daddy .Well these guys in this book are serious about their wrestling  and train hard and take real pride in what they do .For them to be the best is to earn honour and a place with in the community around them  .Also this is a book about family but  brothers in particular  and the thing about one being a success and the other maybe not having it and being over shadow at times this is like something from Greek myths or classic literature .I do hope this finds a UK publisher as is a positive view of life in Pakistan and would maybe break down people ideas of the country .

Do you have a favourite sport based novel ?


21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa Hill
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 00:36:41

    *chuckle* This is why it’s good to have a female on the shadow jury, eh?


    • winstonsdad
      Jan 04, 2013 @ 07:08:11

      It is I do feel this is a very male book but one because of how it is written be good for no. Readers as the chapters are very short all the best stu


      • Matthew Todd
        Jan 04, 2013 @ 12:00:36

        I dunno. I’ve almost finished it, and I like that Ali Farooqi parallels the male and female experience of growing old. It’s certainly not a testosterone-filled book like others I can think of.

      • winstonsdad
        Jan 04, 2013 @ 22:23:27

        No lot more about the art and manner of sport I like the fact it is about people ageing as well all the best stu

  2. Nana Fredua-Agyeman
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 09:00:12

    Favourite sport novel? Not yet. Great work you’re doing on the Man Asian list.


  3. parrish lantern
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 10:49:30

    not read much from pakistan apart from some poetry, as to a favourite sports related book The Last Will & Testament of Lemuel Higgins, is worth a read.


  4. Vishy
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 12:26:23

    Nice review, Stu! I love the cover – it conveys what wrestling is all about. I have a book called ‘The Adventures of Amir Hamza’ which is translated from the Urdu by Musharraf Ali Farooqi. I read the beautiful introduction by him to the book, but haven’t been able to read the main book yet. It is wonderful to know that he writes novels too. My favourite novel on sport is probably either ‘Netherland’ by Joseph O’Neill or ’24 for 3′ by Jennie Walker. Both of them are on cricket. One of my friends says that ‘The Power of One’ by Bryce Courtenay is also excellent (it is on boxing). I don’t seem to have read many novels on sport, though I have read many nonfiction works on sport. Thanks for this wonderful review, Stu!


    • winstonsdad
      Jan 04, 2013 @ 22:26:24

      Oh like to try mom of his translations myself Vishy my favourite sports book is fever pitch such great book about football as for cricket the cricket match Hugh de Selincourt all the best stu


      • Vishy
        Jan 05, 2013 @ 10:55:16

        I haven’t read ‘Fever Pitch’ yet, Stu, though I have heard that it is a wonderful book. Glad to know that you liked it so much. I will look for it. ‘The Cricket Match’ by Hugh de Selincourt sounds quite interesting! I can’t wait to read it 🙂 Thanks for the recommendation!

      • winstonsdad
        Jan 05, 2013 @ 12:30:44

        Cricket match worth getting a underrated classic I think all the best stu

  5. Max Cairnduff
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 13:39:40

    I hadn’t heard of this, and it sounds very interesting. How did you discover it? Through the Man Asian?


  6. Bina
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 14:59:30

    I tend to avoid books that focus mostly on sports, but I haven’t read much Pakistani lit, the last was A Case of Exploding Mangoes, so perhaps I’ll give it a try.


  7. markbooks
    Jan 04, 2013 @ 22:33:04

    Hi Stu, as you know I also really enjoyed this book. But it is testament to the quality on this year’s MAN Asian longlist that it is by no means guaranteed a shortlist place. In terms of great sports-related novels, the obvious recent comparison would be Shehan Karunatilaka’s utterly brilliant ‘Chinaman’…


  8. Trackback: The FENCER /l’ESCRIMEUR by Ayala R | Winstonsdad's Blog
  9. Trackback: #bookaday 26 a book that should sold better | Winstonsdad's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

January 2013


%d bloggers like this: