Saturday, November 30, 2013

Insight to Pittho's World

Book : Pittho's World
Author: Murtaza Razvi
ISBN : 9788172239343
Pages: 204
Price: 299
Rating : 1/5

What the book said:

No, I am no Scheherazade of the Arabian Nights, I tell Rani, when she agrees to listen to my stories.And I am no depraved king, she says ...

Pittho's World is the magical domain of storytelling, of Sheikhu and his lover Rani, of parents, Big Brother, uncles, aunts and grandparents. And of course, Aunt Pittho, she of the big hips, wielding magic and a stick. The stories originate in Iran, move through Afghanistan to Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, before returning to rest in Pakistan. Spanning two centuries and several generations, these are tales of love and happiness, tragedy and malice, black magic and manslaughter, linked together by two peoples love for storytelling, and for each other.
Published posthumously, this delightful work of fiction by one of Pakistans best-known journalists transports us to places and times long lost to humanity. They are stories of life, but also of death which waits at the end, leaving in its wake a loneliness that lingers.


It is said never judge a book by its cover. I never really took this saying seriously until I came across the book “Pittho’s World” by Murtaza Razvi. Everything that contributes in the appearance of this book, from the cover to the blurb is kind of an illusion as the actual content of the book is far from what the blurb promises it to be. When I came across this book and read the blurb, the very mention of Arabian Nights and Magic compelled me to pick it up. I expected a lot of short stories with interesting Arabic background and some magical influence if not really magic, but was disappointed. The book is a collection of stories from the personal life of Sheikhu, the protagonist of the book. He narrates a series of tales from his family’s origin in Iran to their present life in Pakistan, to his girlfriend and reluctant listener Rani. The narration is dry and bland. Moreover Pittho’s character just turns out to be a fragment of Sheikhu’s life and doesn’t fit in as the centralized theme of the book making the very title an illusion as well.

Pittho’s world suffers right from the start with the character sketching of uninteresting orthodox elders who tend to see the wrong in everything. As the story moves ahead it gets even drier as the narration of every character follows the same tone and lacks in imagination or innovation. Sheikhu makes an attempt to make Rani aware of how she is related to him through a number of stories with strong themes of life and death, but the dots really fail to paint a perfectly clear picture. Every story runs in an intermittent manner and thus the book loses its points in the department of ‘flow’. The lead characters Sheikhu and Rani also remain bound to their roles of narrator and listener, respectively, till the very end with occasional riposte from Rani; but unfortunately that is the maximum of character traits Razvi managed to exploit.

  1. Characters from Sheikhu’s family – Even though I didn’t really like a lot of people of his dysfunctional family I found the character names kind of funny and interesting. The best part was none of the names were ever mentioned in the book. Their name was really their relation to Sheikhu or one of their prominent character traits. Also, the characters sketches were perfect to the T; you could understand each of them from the description given. So a gold star there to the author.

  1. Lack of imagination or good plot.
  2. Dry narration and weak protagonists.
  3. Slow and episodic stories strained the flow of the novel.
  4. Sheikhu and Rani are supposed to be lovers of storytelling, but the storytelling is flawed big time.
  5. Too many orthodox, kind of negative and non acceptable views in the very start of the book.
  6. The novel tries way too hard to find something magical in “Life” and fails.

Overall it was just a onetime read for me and demanded a lot of patience to finish it. Maybe the blurb built a lot of expectations for me and the book failed to click any of them. I would rate it a 1 out of 5 star book. Apart from people who enjoyed Razvi’s storytelling in Musharraf earlier or curious to explore new writers this book will not have many takers.

P.S. - This book was given to me for review by Indiblogger and Harper Collins and this is my personal unbiased review.

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