Dec. 25, 2014
CNN-IBN: In Conversation with Aatish Taseer
by Palki Sharma
Dec. 23, 2014
News Laundry, Madhu Trehan Intv
Intv with Madhu Trehan
by Madhu Trehan
Jan. 06, 2012
The Takeaway: When Fiction Becomes a Horrific Reality
by The Takeaway
Nov. 07, 2011
Leonard Lopate
by Leonard Lopate
Nov. 03, 2011
The Kojo Nnamdi Show
by Kojo Nnamdi
Sep. 30, 2011
Sonia Singh: Your Call
by Sonia Singh
Sep. 21, 2011
NPR: In "Noon," Fictional Violence is all too Real
by David Greene
Sep. 15, 2011
by Amrita Tripathi
Sep. 07, 2011
Off the Record
by Anuradha Ananth
Jul. 15, 2011
BBC Four
Front Row with Kirsty Lang
by Kirsty Lang
Jul. 01, 2011
BBC World Service
Strand Art's Show
by Mark Coles
May. 01, 2011
Headlines Today
On the Couch with Koel
by Koel Purie
Mar. 04, 2011
Today Program: Shahbaz Bhatti
May. 03, 2010
CNN: IBN Interview
by Amrita Tripathi
Mar. 19, 2010
BBC: Radio Two
Claudia Winkleman Arts Show
by Eve Pollard
Mar. 05, 2010
BBC: The Strand Art's Show
Jun. 25, 2009
Radio Australia Breakfast Club
Breakfast Club
by Phil Kafcaloudes
May. 31, 2009
Bookbits: Interview
by Craig Rintoul
Apr. 17, 2009
Sunil Sethi: Just Books
Apr. 16, 2009
Sonia Singh
Apr. 16, 2009
Canada AM
Apr. 16, 2009
Stranger to History
by Amrita Tripathi
Apr. 10, 2009
SKY: Post 26/11
view video
Apr. 01, 2009
NRK: Podcast
Jul. 19, 2015
LARB: the best Indian novel of the last decade
by Karan Mahajan

THE INDIAN AUTHOR Aatish Taseer writes out of a compulsive need to understand his own fragmentary and complicated history. His mother is the renowned Indian journalist Tavleen Singh; his father, Salmaan Taseer, was an advisor to Benazir Bhutto and was serving as the governor of Punjab in Pakistan when he was assassinated in 2011. The two never married. They separated shortly after Taseer was born in 1980, and, though Taseer took his father's last name, he grew up with his mother in Delhi.
Taseer has described his sense of alienation and shame about this cross-border parentage movingly in his first book, the memoir-travelogue Stranger to History (2009), which seeks to fix him in a historical milieu. Trying to reconcile with and understand his father, Taseer travels through Turkey, Syria, Saudia Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan, wondering how Islam fits with the modern era. His findings are Naipaulian and bleak. "Because the faith was such a negative force,” he says about...
Jul. 18, 2015
WSJ: Five Best on the Death of Father

Jul. 11, 2015
NPR: A writer at the peak of his skill
by Jason Sheehan

Mar. 21, 2015
FT: A novel of ideas in the guise of a very human story, Review, TWTW
by Michael Prodger

A Sanskrit scholar delves into his parents' past in an engrossing state of the nation novel

There is a distinctive strain in Indian fiction that takes as its subject the family group and weaves from it overarching novels that embrace great swathes of India's history and politics. Neel Mukherjee, Jhumpa Lahiri, Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh and Vikram Seth are among the most notable writers to have turned a state of the family novel into a state of the nation one. Aatish Taseer is another.
Taseer's approach in The Way Things Were is to adopt the simplest of devices, the story of a marriage and its dissolution as narrated by a son, and use it to show an India that, in its brashness, narrow-mindedness and readiness to be swayed by rightwing ideologues, has lost all touch with its past. It is an India that will look to everywhere but its own history for a role model: "Every time there's an ascendant power in the world,” says the central charac...
Mar. 19, 2015
Spectator: British Colonialism once again under attack, Review, TWTW
by Will Nicoll

Early in the second section of Aatish Taseer's The Way Things Were we are presented with a striking description of Delhi. The city's bright bazaars and bald communal gardens, among them 'the occasional tomb of a forgotten medieval official', are 'stitched together with the radial sprawl of Lutyens's city'. Taseer acknowledges the landscape's beauty, but buried in his description, with its reference to the British architect who designed much of Delhi during the empire, is the painful and stifling legacy of history. For Taseer, it is an atmosphere that infects Delhi - simultaneously a 'submerged necropolis' and a city where 'the dense cold air, sulphurous and full of particles, closes over old wounds'. Throughout the book the scar-tissue left by colonialism and the agonising poverty of a society in swift, violent transition are felt presences.

The basic narrative is a simple one. Skanda, the Manhattan-dwelling narrator, must return the body of his father...
Mar. 15, 2015
Indy: A Personal and Political Mix Hits Home, Review, TWTW
by Amanda Hopkinson

Aatish Taseer belongs to a recent generation of Indian novelists writing in English, addressing an international readership. Unlike predecessors, colonial reference points are diminished, as writer and reader commute across the global village. Taseer's wide and analytical perspective has something in common with contemporaries Amit Chaudhuri and Neel Mukherjee, but his style – at once highly intellectual and deeply poetic – is unique.

This immense and intense fourth "novel” is part fiction, part biography, part national history and part linguistic lexicon, crossing boundaries of genre and geography as it travels from America to Asia by way of Europe.

The narrator is Skanda, son of linguistics professor Toby Ketu. The opening sentence introduces him as "deep into his translation of The Birth of Kumara when his mother calls to say his father is on his deathbed”. Toby's body is to be returned from Genev...
Dec. 11, 2014
Hindu: Review of The Way Things Were
by Vaishna Roy

Aatish Taseer's new book is a powerful statement of our times.

Aatish Taseer's new book The Way Things Were is not so much about a family but about a nation and a language. It's a paean to Sanskrit, written from the perspective of a passionate and ultimately disillusioned Sanskritist. It's a parable about modern India, owned in two different ways by two very different people. It is also at another level, simply, a lightly-veiled account of the rightwing-leftwing politics of today characterised on the one hand by an effete, failed modern-liberal outlook and on the other by a resurgent, strong and strident right. It's an important book because it reclaims ancient and modern history for today's Indian at a time when wil dly opposing versions lay claim to his attention.

Skanda is on his way from Manhattan to India with his father Toby's ashes. Journeying back to the country of his childhood is a journey into his family's story, but it is also really India's stor...
Oct. 29, 2012
Stranger to History: a new introduction:
by Aatish Taseer

Published November 13th by Graywolf
Oct. 09, 2012
An Introduction to Manto's Selected Stories

Sep. 25, 2012
Amitav Ghosh: "Stranger to History is a remarkable book: touching, brave, honest, elegant
by Amitav Ghosh

Nov. 23, 2011
John Freeman: "Noon announces itself as a work of literature...beautiful and poised"
by John Freeman

Although it unfolds across a range of settings, from a train crossing Kashmir to a bistro in London's posh Notting Hill neighborhood, this worldly novel is full of familiar pains. A boy struggles to become a man; a mother rebuilds her life in the wake of a shaming divorce; and a father looms like a colossus over the action, so important his presence can be registered purely through the lengths to which this book's narrator travels to meet him.

What is unfamiliar here is the grace with which Aatish Taseer crafts this family arc. At a time when realism's triumph has turned many novelists into faithful chroniclers of their time, Noon announces itself as a work of literature. Borrowing from the tone of memoir, and the compression of the short story, it is a novel only in that it is nothing else. Chapter by chapter, it builds a world of a young man forsaken by history yet tied ineluctably to its consequences.

Noon opens when Rehan T...
Oct. 01, 2011
The Daily Beast: Between Two Worlds
by Taylor Antrim

Pakistan is a bulwark against extremism, we're told, even as Pakistani assassinations, abductions, and suicide bombings make the news with numbing regularity. It's a key ally and the recipient of billions of U.S. aid, and yet the SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad compound had to be mounted like a mission behind enemy lines.

Fiction writers, better than politicians or pundits, make satisfying work out of such contradictions. Conflict, irony, complication - these things are narrative fuel, and a good paradox can put a novel into the pantheon (c.f. Catch 22). So no wonder contemporary Pakistan, somehow both friend and foe, increasingly modern and stubbornly feudal, has provided a resonant setting for novels and short stories in recent years. Ali Sethi's The Wish Maker, Mohsin Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and Daniyal Mueenuddin's In Other Rooms, Other Wonders have been the best to cross my desk, with Mueenuddin's graceful volume, a collectio...
Sep. 29, 2011
Beautiful People
by Anuradha Sengupta

Sep. 21, 2011
The Independent: "movingly evokes the heartbreak of a nation"
by Anita Sethi

A"noontime menace" pervades this atmospheric novel. Taking its title from the hottest, brightest part of the day, it also focuses on the ominous shadows cast by the sunlight. If the partition of India is associated with midnight (as in Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children), Aatish Taseer's temporal territory is the opposite time: his characters are dealing with partition's reverberations over the decades.

Absent presences haunt the narrative, endowing it with great emotional force. Here, it is an absent father, as in Taseer's previous works, the non-fiction Stranger to History and his first novel, The Temple-Goers. The protagonist, Rehan, is on a train journey in search of his businessman father when a stranger bursts into his compartment and begins relating the day that his own father died, during a 2005 earthquake which demolished the Jhelum Valley.

The novel begins with this story within a story: a vivid and shocki...
Sep. 20, 2011
Wall Street Journal (blogs) Interview
by Margherita Stancati

Few people of Aatish Taseer's generation have experienced Partition as much as he has. For the majority, on either side of the India-Pakistan border, it survives as a defining political rivalry. For some, with its tales of migration and loss, it is a painful episode in the family's history. But for the half-Pakistani author, who was brought up in New Delhi by his Sikh mother, the Partition of 1947 was a lot more than that.

For Mr. Taseer, now 30, the relationship with his father had everything to do with Partition and the enmity it cemented. His father was Salman Taseer, the former governor of Pakistan's Punjab province who was killed by an Islamic extremist, his own bodyguard, in January.

For the elder Taseer, who lived in Lahore with his Pakistani family, having an Indian connection – a son born from a short-lived relationship with an Indian woman and who called India his home – proved problematic...
Sep. 02, 2011
The Secret Son
by Somak Ghoshal

Aatish Taseer's second novel, Noon, is made up of four, relatively disjointed episodes, framed by a prologue and a postscript. These fragments move back and forth in time, across countries and continents, weaving together a tale of loss and longing, union and separation, through the voice of Rehan Tabassum. The four-part structure, alluding perhaps to the musical form of the quartet, is built on a crescendo of emotional intensity, a rising curve of which we have little inkling in the first two, somewhat sedate, sections of the novel. Yet, Taseer's prose never fails to hold our attention. On the contrary, his account of a high-society dinner party in Delhi, hosted by the nouveau riche industrialist, Amit Sethia (who later turns out to be Rehan's stepfather), in honour of "the Rajmata of some long forgotten desert kingdom” (it's easy to guess who this ethereal beauty may be), is in the best tradition of the roman à clef. The influence of the wicked exuberance of Truman ...
Aug. 14, 2011
TOI: Interview
by Srijana Mitra Das

He's one of the subcontinent's most exciting literary talents. His new book 'Noon' explores violence in South Asia. Son of Pakistani politician Salman Taseer, assassinated after defying Islamist groups, Aatish Taseer speaks with Srijana Mitra Das about nations, truth, lies and ties that bind - or break - people.

With an unusual parentage, how do you see nationality?
Because of Partition, my relationship with nationality's always been strange. My ties with Punjab are more real than abstract relations with Pakistan or India. Nations are made up of songs, dress, the way people talk, literatures - those are much closer to one than the passport you carry. But Pakistan never recognised this. It was based on rejecting these for a larger Muslim allegiance.

India's the opposite. We've cherished our variety, nurtured it with a loose, big Indian idea floating over the surface. This could incorporate the idea ...
Jul. 31, 2011
GQ: 'an engrossing and gifted writer'
by Olivia Cole

Heralding a new chapter in South Asian literature: Hari Kunzru's Gods Without Men and Aatish Taseer's Noon.

Hari Kunzru's debut, The Impressionist (2002), was an unforgettable coming-of-age novel, set in India in the last days of British rule. Its hero, Pran Nath, is born a second-class citizen but, by a quirk of genetics, can pass for white, "unfurling new selves like conjurer's flags" and quickly absorbing the fact that those in power care only for "outward forms".

At the heart of Gods Without Men, Kunzru's fourth novel, is this same suggestion that, from a certain perspective, all belief systems are mad. The setting in the Californian desert glitters with a long inventory of spiritual apparatus. Faith in miracles, shorting, America, alternative medicine, acquisitiveness, UFOs, conflicts that can win "hearts and minds"... The list of human props and baggage expands like a mirage...
Jul. 21, 2011
TLS: 'exquisitely literary'
by Chloe Campbell

Jul. 01, 2011
Metro: the big interview
by Claire Allfree

In January this year, Aatish Taseer's father, Salman, was assassinated by his own security guard in Islamabad. The governor of Punjab, Taseer senior had requested a pardon for Asia Bibi, a Christian sentenced to death under Pakistan's blasphemy law for allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
Thousands of Pakistanis attended Taseer's funeral but, in a stark symbol of Pakistan's violently entrenched religious divides, his killer was showered in rose petals by supporters when he appeared in court. 'I haven't yet intellectually processed his death,' says the 31-year-old Taseer tentatively, about to embark on a whirlwind promotional tour for his new novel, Noon. 'Noon feels like a strange book now that what has happened has happened.'

The product of a brief affair between his father and a Sikh Indian journalist, Taseer himself straddles several of Pakistan's cultural and historical fissures. His writing, which includes The Temple-Goers, has alwa...
Apr. 30, 2011
ES: Profile
by Alison Roberts

For the past three months, Aatish Taseer, the acclaimed novelist whose fictional debut, The Temple-Goers, was last year shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, has not been able to write a word.

He has not, he states bluntly, been able even to read. In January this year, his father, Salman Taseer, the high-profile Pakistani politician and Governor of Punjab, was murdered in broad daylight by his police bodyguard as other members of his security detail looked on. And for Aatish, the weeks following the killing have seen one "grotesque" revelation after another.

As the world recoiled at the brutality of the act - undertaken, said the gunman, as vengeance for Salman Taseer's open condemnation of Pakistan's blasphemy laws - according to a "parallel sort of morality" in Pakistan itself his assassin was fêted in the streets and given money by strangers. The nation's clerics condoned the killing and orde...
Apr. 29, 2011
Irish Times: Profile
by Laurence Mackin

AATISH TASEER SEEMS to be destined to live in two worlds. Born in London to Indian and Pakistani parents in 1980, Taseer grew up in New Delhi and was educated in India and Amherst College in the US. Now a successful journalist and writer, he splits his time between India and London. He has written controversial and acclaimed articles for Time and Prospect magazines, his debut novel, The Temple-Goers , was nominated for the Costa First Novel award, and he has a new book due in the summer.

When we speak, he has to tear himself away from India's exploits in the cricket world cup, but it is not long before he shifts his focus on to the interview completely, and his lightning-fast diction is tumbling down the line in polite, rapid bursts of clinical information.

One of the central themes in The Temple-Goers is how India is starting to delineate a new, modern identity for itself, free of colonial baggage. Taseer most clearly demonstr...
May. 08, 2010
././images/presslogos/74.jpg Interview with Aatish Taseer
by Richard Marcus

Interview with Aatish Taseer
A Personal Quest for an Understanding of Modern Islam

Aatish Taseer is a British writer and journalist of British-Indian origin. In this interview with Richard Marcus, he talks about Islamic identity, the ailments of the Islamic world, and his most recent book, the highly acclaimed Stranger to History: A Son's Journey through Islamic Lands

Stranger to History is about an absence: the absence of your estranged father, the Pakistani politician Salmaan Taseer. Before you began your journey what, if any, expectations or hopes did you carry into it, with regards to both your Muslim heritage and how it might help to bridge the gap between you and your father?

Aatish Taseer: I was never in search of any personal religious fulfilment or identity of any kind. I wanted only to understand the distances that had arisen between my father and ...
May. 02, 2010
The Hindu: "...a carefully crafted book."
by Jai Arjun Singh

The narrator of Aatish Taseer's debut novel is a young man named Aatish Taseer, and some of the details of his life appear drawn from the author's. The device is guaranteed to raise questions about exactly how "autobiographical” The Temple-goers is (as if such things are neatly quantifiable), but that would be to miss the wood for the trees; this is a book that encourages us to ask subtler - and more interesting - questions about identity.

The fictional Aatish is a young writer born to privilege. After a few years studying and working in America and England he's just returned to Delhi to revise a novel, and he has access to two apartments - his mother's and his girlfriend Sanyogita's - in the high-end colonies that border Lutyen's Delhi. A citizen of the world, Aatish is estranged from non-cosmopolitan India, and always conscious of - and uneasy about - this estrangement.

Unfamiliar ground?

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Unfamiliar ground?

This is reflected early on, in the book's descriptions. When he writes about places like Jorbagh and Lodhi Gardens, he does it with precision and familiarity. But he's on less firm ground with other parts of Delhi, including its growing satellite towns, and the novel is deliberately non-specific about those parts. Instead of Noida or Ghaziabad, they are given the abstract names “Sectorpur” and “Phasenagar”. The impression one gets is of a city map where the posh colonies of south-central Delhi are in sharp relief but the names get blurred as the map spreads outwards, until the satellite towns are anonymous smudges: unknowable and frightening places to someone who has led a sheltered life.

We are prepared, then, for the fascination Aatish feels towards the book's other major figure, a fitness trainer named Aakash who lives in a lower-income-group flat in Sectorpur. “Double A like me!” Aakash exclaims when he learns Aatish's name, the first time they meet, but gradually we will come to see how Aakash himself is something of a double, a doppelganger for our narrator. He's a developed character in his own right, but it's also possible to see him as a figure born in Aatish's subconscious, threatening and attractive in equal measure. As a high-caste Brahmin, seemingly very sure of his place in the world, he is an object of envy, and Aatish's descriptions of him have a ring of awe (“His small, powerful body hovered over mine, the rope of black religious strings hanging down like a noose…”). When he shows up – as a security guard – at an upper-crust Holi party where Aatish is a guest, and later, when he invites himself to Aatish's flat, there is a hint of rupture, of one world intruding on another.

Their improbable friendship deepens: Aatish goes on a day trip with Aakash and his family to an ancestral village temple; later, he accompanies him to the home of a middle-aged prostitute where they share a different sort of intimacy. Aatish's interest in his new friend's life may suggest a novelist collecting material for his next book, but it's just as likely that he is trying to understand himselfand the country he wants badly to belong to.

The Temple-goers is a carefully crafted book in which even seemingly marginal scenes (such as a description of a writers' meet where a young man reads out a short story that may or may not be an account of a real-life incident) become significant in retrospect. This carefulness can also be seen in its examination of identity – national, communal and personal.

In his first book Stranger to History, Taseer — whose estranged father is a Pakistani Muslim — described his journeys through various Islamic countries to try and understand how the religion manifests itself in different places. The Temple-goers is, in part, a complementary examination of Hinduism, a religion that had pagan roots and was not founded on a fixed belief system; the repercussions — good and bad — of this fluidity; and the growing danger of it being overtaken by fundamentalist forces today.

At one point, Aatish's Urdu teacher Zafar uses the word “ vehshat” to describe India's “history of animalism and sacrifice”, which he associates with the majority religion. “The land is stained,” he says, “It has seen terrible things: girl children sacrificed, widows burned, the worship of idols.” We are reminded of his words in a later passage set during a jagran, where the master of ceremonies cheerfully tells a story involving the sacrifice of a young boy – and still later, when a gruesome murder takes place in Sectorpur.

Other perspectives

But it's equally clear that this is just one perspective, and The Temple-goers offers us others. In one very entertaining passage, ideas of India are bandied about at a dinner party where a V.S. Naipaul-like figure – a writer named Vijaipal – holds centre-stage. Responding to the popular liberal-intellectual stand that India isn't really a single country at all – that the common man from Gujarat, Assam or Tamil Nadu wouldn't have the faintest idea of India as a land – this writer declaims that the temple-going Indian “knows this country backwards. He forever carries an idea of it in his head…He knows it through its holy places…there is almost no other country, certainly not one so vast, where the countrymen are as acquainted with the distant reaches of the land through their pilgrimages as they are in India”.

Persuasive though this monologue is, the reader might well wonder whether this generic “temple-goer” really is a pan-Indian creature or if what we're talking about here is again a very specific variety of north Indian religious chauvinism. But then, one of this book's achievements is that it presents forceful ideas without necessarily throwing in its lot with any of them. The fictional Aatish may have a clear sense of what the future will hold for Indians like him — and for Indians like Aakash — but the real Taseer doesn't give us a broad, over-simplified view of a vast, contradiction-ridden country.
Apr. 23, 2010
Outlook: "...subtle and arresting...deserves to be read widely."
by Sadanand Dhume

In his first novel, Aatish Taseer tells the story of Aatish Taseer, a young Western-educated Indian with an absent Pakistani father, a famous journalist for a mother, and a deep hunger to be a writer. Taseer inhabits a world of privilege whose compass points include the laburnum-lined crescent of Amrita Shergill Marg, the marbled depths of the Oberoi, and lamplit dinner parties that feature "politicians, journalists, broken-down royals and perhaps an old Etonian lying fatly on a deep sofa”. Taseer's friends know London by its trendy restaurants; their childhoods are collectively marked by the pastry shop Chocolate Wheel in Jor Bagh.

Into this milieu, Taseer introduces a representative of that protean, heaving, endlessly explorable but impossible to pin down world: the new India. Aakash Sharma lives in a drab satellite city of Delhi called Sectorpur and works as a trainer at Junglee gym in the heart of town. He wears red and black religious threads ...
Apr. 14, 2010
Time Out: Modern Mutiny
by Raghu Karnad

Aatish Taseer, author of The Temple-goers, walks Raghu Karnad through a city of ambition, horror and flowering trees. Photography by Mikma Lepcha

In his third book, Aatish Taseer's observant eye scans from the lawn parties of Sunder Nagar to the cement plains of Dwarka, recording the Delhi of right now. The Temple-goers is a novel about a young writer returning to Delhi, a city of scorching newness, and befriending his gym trainer Aakash, who embodies that newness.

As a young Haryanvi man full of ambition, bravado and class confusion, Aakash is an easy figure to spot. Yet the detail and particularity of his character are the real accomplishments of The Temple-goers. "For a character to be 'credible' is my highest aim,” Taseer said. "It means he can't be dismissed, whether you like him or not.”
How did you develop Aakash, and make him so recognisable without becoming a s...
Apr. 13, 2010
Scandalous, roguish but likeable Delhi: "...delightful..."
by Bhupesh Bhandari

If you move around, you could find many cities in Delhi. There is the old city, once home to poets and refinement but now a dump of filth and squalor. There are the suburban sprawls cut neatly into sectors by broad roads, tall buildings and men and women in a rush. There are giant-sized bungalows with lovely boulevards, roundabouts and large trees. Then there are scandals, power brokers, beautiful people and ordinary folks who live in quarters scarcely bigger than pigeon holes. Aatish Taseer's debut novel is a snapshot of this Delhi, the current-age Delhi - aggressive, sad, scandalous, roguish, yet likeable.

Taseer deftly plays with two characters, one is his trainer at the gymnasium and the other teaches him Urdu at home, to tell the story of two communities that, some think, can never stay together. Not for long without holding a knife at each other's throat, in any case. The trainer, who is a Hindu, is strong, assertive, ambitious, ambivalent about ...
Apr. 09, 2010
India Today: " of the finest stylists in fiction..."
by S. Prasannarajan

What we hear in the rustle of the pages that make the Indian Writing in English the most productive enterprise in contemporary literature is a familiar anger. The same shared dissent. The same social earnestness that unites the original and the pretender. The same rejoinder to the wretchedness that is India, a country where the bloodlust of tradition is matched by the hatred that pervades the present. The same joylessness of being Indian. Then you hear this, a cry of denial from the narrator of The Temple-Goers: "I envy the fact that when the world becomes his, which it will have to, or none of what we're saying has any meaning, he will be able to put his hand straight in the fire, with his language, his religion, his idea of who he is, intact and close around him. And people like me, who never played any part in rejecting these things, who inherited this rejection from the generations before us, will have no place in that world. What I feel when I see him is something like a...
Mar. 27, 2010
TOI: 'A Fine Novel...'
by CP Surendran

The Temple-Goers is a fine novel. Most of its characters come across as real. The plot is news by other means. The staple sex scene is comic in its tragic details . And the novel seriously tries to make sense of the India that the author, Aatish Taseer, thinks he is intimate with.

Taseer tells the story of what happens to the narrator and his girl friend, Sanyogita, both recently returned from London where they seem not to do much besides living the good life. What happens to their relationship is India, specifically Delhi. Perhaps it is the raw urges of a newly material people; or the heat that bares the brain down to the last thought; or a certain vantage point that people reach in relation to each other, an intangible terminus they arrive at along the coordinates of a place and its alluvial culture. The cumulative result is the end of a relationship.

Quirks are at the quick of the novel. For instance , the narrator, in a s...
Mar. 27, 2010
Mint: 'A Meticulously crafted mirror...'
by Sumana Mukherjee

Within a day of completing Aatish Taseer's debut novel The Temple-goers, I found myself in the eerie position of living out an episode from the book. Staying in a borrowed apartment in New York City, Taseer's protagonist - also called Aatish Taseer - steps out and lets the door slam shut, only to realize at that precise instant that the keys are inside. Minor details aside, my drama in real life ended in much the same way, with brass flakes flying, the lock's components giving way one by one under a powerful drill, finally leaving a hole in the door.

It was coincidence. But fresh off the novel, it was yet more evidence that the lines between fiction and reality are very, very blurred in The Temple-goers. By itself, this is not a new phenomenon in Indian writing in English: When Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy appeared in 1993, Kolkata society spent many merry hours identifying the inspirations behind the dramatis personae. More recently, Ma...
Mar. 21, 2010
The Sunday Times: 'An assured and engaging debut'
by Peter Parker

The social and sexual tensions of modern Delhi offer rich material for a novel that's part murder-thriller and part 'bromance'

Aatish Taseer's first novel is narrated by someone called Aatish Taseer who, half-Indian and half-Pakistani, also shares much of the author's biography. Like his creator, this Aatish returns to Delhi after some time abroad and takes Urdu lessons with an impoverished writer called Zafar Moradabadi in order to appreciate his paternal grandfather's poetry. He also hopes to work on a novel, which predictably enough turns out to be the novel we are reading.

The Temple-Goers is in fact rather less ludic than this might suggest. Part thriller, part investigation of male friendship, part exploration of the tension between traditional values and modern liberalism in Indian society, the book nevertheless has a fairly straightforward narrative. By coming to Delhi, Aatish hopes to ...
Mar. 19, 2010
Spectator: 'Vicious Fun'
by Lee Langley

Award-winning poet Ruth Padel established her prose credentials with her autobiographical travel book, Tigers in Red Weather.

Award-winning poet Ruth Padel established her prose credentials with her autobiographical travel book, Tigers in Red Weather. Journalist Aatish Taseer trawled his own past and background for his memoir, Stranger to History. Now they have produced first novels connected by both dislocation and location - India, though they deal with very different versions of the subcontinent, viewing it from opposite, culturally shaped perspectives...

...Aatish Taseer takes the reader on a very different journey: a brief descent into hell. Set almost entirely in India, The Temple-Goers gives us a picture of a world in foment, near boiling point. Taseer paints a scathingly comic picture of underdogs on the make: their entrepreneurial energy, ferocious zest for life, the snakes and ladders of upward mobi...
Mar. 14, 2010
Observer: 'gripping'
by Mary Fitzgerald

India is also the setting for Aatish Taseer's The Temple-goers (Viking, £12.99), only here the jungle is a shape-shifting, urban one: Delhi. The principal character is Aatish, an aspiring novelist who returns to India after studying in Britain and America, and finds it transformed from his childhood days. Enter Aakash, a personal trainer at an upmarket gym, a vain, forceful man who switches deftly between British/American slang and Hindi; machismo and homoeroticism; elite literary circles and ancient Brahmin ritual; someone who quite simply "could not have existed 10 years ago". Aatish quickly falls under his spell.

The tangle of politics, murder, bribery and betrayal that follows exposes the sinister side of modern India, but as much as Taseer's gripping novel is an account of how people of all backgrounds struggle to survive in India, it's also an account of how people, anywhere, struggle to write. Through Aatish the character's encount...
Mar. 14, 2010
National: Fiction for Change
by David Mattin

When Aatish Taseer arrived in his native Delhi in 2007 after a long stint abroad, he returned to discover, he says, a "double shock”. First, the years away – spent at Amherst College in Massachusetts, and later working for Time magazine in London – had shifted his perspective on his home city, so that even familiar sights now seemed somehow alien.

On top of this, though, came the second shock: the city to which he had returned, Taseer realised, was going through a profound and inescapable transformation, a transformation that was sweeping the entire country and that rendered much of what he knew – even who he was – outdated.

In short, Taseer had returned to the supercharged, cacophonous, sometimes brutal metropolitan sprawl that is called the "New India”.

This month, readers have some reason to be grateful that Taseer experienced that double shock. It helped give r...
Mar. 07, 2010
MW: An Interpreter for India
by Ashok Malik

Mar. 05, 2010
Independent: 'Exquisitely described'
by Andrew Robinson

India's seamy underbelly, though hardly news to Indians, is a trendy subject for novels and movies, such as The White Tiger and Slumdog Millionaire. If you have seen Monsoon Wedding, you should have a fair idea of the milieu of The Temple-Goers, a first novel by Aatish Taseer. He was born in New Delhi of an abortive affair between a well-connected Sikh journalist mother and a philandering Pakistani politician, and now lives there and in London, where he has worked as a journalist. Like the film, the novel moves among Delhi's wealthy middle class in all its energy, brashness, pretentiousness, perversion and corruption, supported by a cast of thrusting, upwardly mobile hustlers and servants, all tinged with Bollywood-style romance.

The style, on the other hand, owes more than a little to VS Naipaul's non-fiction, with its combination of precise observation, analytical self-confidence and pitilessness. Not only is Taseer personally acquainted with Naipaul, ...
Feb. 03, 2010
Der Tagesspiegel: Zivilisations des Glaubens
by Von Gerrit Bartels

Was bedeutet es, Muslim zu sein? In "Terra Islamica" berichtet der britische Journalist Aatish Taseers von seiner Reise durch die islamischen Länder

Als der britische Journalist Aatish Taseer im Sommer 2005 einen Artikel über die Attentäter der Terroranschläge in London veröffentlicht, bekommt er einen Brief von seinem pakistanischen Vater, dem Gouverneur des Punjab, Salmaan Taseer. Dieser wirft dem Sohn vor, „gehässige antimuslimische Propaganda" zu betreiben und nicht einmal „oberflächliche Kenntnis des pakistanischen Ethos" zu haben. Taseer ist verwundert: Sein Vater ist kein gläubiger Muslim – er fastet und betet nicht, er trinkt Alkohol – und sieht als Politiker im Islam vor allem ein Mittel zum Zweck. Doch fragt sich der junge Taseer, was er eigentlich vom Islam weiß, was es bedeutet, ein Muslim zu sein: „Ich würde niemals fähig sein zu begreifen, wie de...
Feb. 02, 2010
Nurenberg Nachrichten
by Jürgen Hein

Reise in den Islam – und zum unbekannten Vater
Aatish Taseers Roman beschreibt den Islam aus einer neuen Perspektive
Reise in den Islam – und zum unbekannten Vater

Bitte Bild anklicken!
KÖLN - Durch die Türkei nach Syrien fahren und weiter nach Saudi-Arabien, Iran, Pakistan? Weil einem der Islam so fremd ist und man gerne mehr über ihn wissen möchte? Klingt ein wenig abenteuerlich und auch blauäugig – würde sich ein ganz normaler Abendländer auf diese Reise begeben. Aber Aatish Taseer (30) passt in keine Schublade. Aus islamischer Sicht wurde er als Muslim geboren, wuchs jedoch in Indien auf, in der Familie seiner Mutter, die zur Religionsgemeinschaft der Sikhs gehört. Er studierte in den USA, arbeitete als Journalist in London.

England ist auch der Ausgangspunkt der Reise. 2005 schreibt Taseer nach den Terroranschlägen auf die Londone...
Jan. 27, 2010
Der Spiegel
by Ulrich Baron

Seit V. S. Naipaul 1981 sein Buch "Eine islamische Reise" ("Among the Believers") veröffentlicht hat, ist eine neue Generation herangewachsen, haben sich die Gegensätze zwischen westlicher und islamischer Welt noch einmal dramatisch verschärft. Zu dieser neuen Generation zählt auch der 1980 geborene Aatish Taseer. Taseer fühlt sich dem westlichen Säkularismus verbundener als der Welt seines seit der Kindheit meist abwesenden Vaters, der im muslimischen Pakistan eine politische Karriere gemacht hat.
Auch ohne den Westen bieten Konflikte zwischen Sikhs, Muslims und Hindus, Vätern und Söhnen, Arm und Reich hier Zündstoff. Taseers Reise von Istanbul bis Pakistan enthüllt eine Welt voller Gegensätze und Kränkungen, deren Bewohner sich nach einem islamischen Gegenstück zum übermächtigen westlichen "Weltsystem" sehnen, auch wenn sie eher weltlich orientiert sind.
Jan. 25, 2010
Outlook Extract: India Banquet

Aatish Taseer's much-awaited first novel, The Temple-Goers, explores the tensions around religion and class in a rapidly changing India. In this exclusive extract, he evokes, with comic flair, the world of Delhi's power dinner. Some guests seem familiar enough to set off a guessing game...

Delhi drawing rooms. They were what I remembered of the city from my childhood. Perhaps it was Delhi's fragmented geography, or that it had no real restaurants the way Bombay had - restaurants that were not attached to five-star hotels - or just that it was an old city, closely bound, with people who all seemed to know each other, but there was no setting, no cityscape more evocative of the city I grew up in than a lamp-lit drawing room with a scattering of politicians, journalists, broken-down royals, and perhaps an old Etonian, lying fatly on a deep sofa. And it was a dinner like this, with two blue-and-red glass fanooses burning in a corner, jasmine floating in a po...
Jan. 24, 2010
Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung

Jun. 24, 2009
Sakaal Times: Son rise in faith lands
by Biswadip Mitra

Aatish Taseer has portrayed his journey through Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan, in his latest title. Biswadip Mitra asks questions about his observations and influence of religion in those countries
Trying to know the unknown has been one of the many traits of human beings. And the unknown could be a distant place or the functioning of a system or concepts that might change things for good, or even a person. Young journalist Aatish Taseer wanted to know Islam, the religion that he inherited from his father Salman Taseer. Aatish's recent work - Stranger to History: A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands - has been his endeavour to explore the many facets of the religion in the varied settings of Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan.

Born to a Sikh mother (senior journalist Tavleen Singh) and Pakistani politician Salman Taseer, the young boy partly grew up in New Delhi - with his maternal grandparents and cousins, ...
May. 24, 2009
India Today: Sunil Sethi, Footprints of Faith
by Sunil Sethi

Somewhere mid-point in this memoir and travelogue, the author, as a 17-year-old at a boarding school in south India, feels impelled to make an important telephone call. For anyone in his place the call would be routine, even customary. It is a call to his father. But Aatish Taseer doesn't know where, or how, to find him.

His father disappeared when he was two, leaving him in the custody of his mother in Delhi and with two tangible memories: a biography of the hanged Pakistani leader Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that he'd written and a couple of photographs in a silver frame.

When, finally, through a combination of quick thinking, subterfuge and gentle goading by the school therapist, he makes the most important call of his life to track down his father in Lahore, he is met with a dissembling response. And the next day, when he tries to connect with the voice he desperately wants to hear, he finds his father impersonatin...
May. 24, 2009
Spectator: You can go home again
by Carey Schofield

The publication of Stranger to History is likely to be turned into a fiery political event in Pakistan. The author is the half-Indian son of Salman Taseer, the glamorous and controversial Governor of the Punjab and one of Pakistan's most important newspaper proprietors.The work is a heartfelt cry for attention from the old mogul, and with its talk of alcohol and of illicit liaisons it provides plenty of fuel for the Governor's enemies.

But it will be a pity if Aatish's first book - part family memoir, part an account of his journey through the heart of the radical Islamic world - is exploited by his father's foes. This is a work that ought to be read by policy-makers in Whitehall and Washington as well as in Islamic countries - for its insights into the thinking of angry young Muslim men. Identity, imagined history, alienation and the idea of Islam as a nationality and a 'mode of being' are the recurrent themes of both narratives.

May. 23, 2009
Tehelka: The Past is a Foreign Country
by Nisha Susan

Aatish Taseer's book deserves more than shock over his unusual family history, says NISHA SUSAN

IN SOME ways, Stranger to History was written before Aatish Taseer was born. It was written when Aatish's mother, journalist Tavleen Singh fell in love with a visiting Pakistani, Salman Taseer, who already had a wife and three children. It was written when Salman Taseer met Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in London and became a great admirer. It was written even earlier when Singh's family had to leave their Lahore home because of Partition.

Aatish's journey through the Middle East - the backbone of his book - cohabits easily with this earlier narrative. Chapters that describe his parents' brief and clandestine love affair, their split, his heartbreaking attempts to contact his father and his first ever meeting with his father as an adult are interleaved with the annotated lives of people he meets on the roa...
May. 15, 2009
Man's World: Midnight's Grandchild
by Ashok Malik

May. 10, 2009
Mid Day: 'Honesty is my Primary Aim'
by Saaz Aggarwal

His mother Tavleen Singh is a senior Indian journalist and columnist who made her name covering the Punjab insurgency of the eighties. 

His father Salmaan Taseer is a Pakistani businessman and politician, and currently Governor of Punjab in that country.

How did you decide on the pattern of this book, in which you've alternated your personal search for your father with this journey from Istanbul to Mecca and through Syria and Iran to Pakistan?
Many of the personal sections of the book were already written; they were the remains of a failed novel. I knew early on that Stranger to History was a book in which the personal and public had a necessary relationship. But it took much editing and re-thinking to make the two narratives run together in such a way that they aided the flow of the book rather than obstruct it.

How did you fund the trip?
In part, through journalism; ...
May. 05, 2009
Elle: Stranger's Homecoming
by Jai Arjun Singh

May. 03, 2009
A World beyond labels
by Zia us Salam

A world beyond labels

He says he wouldn't like to stand behind banners and flags. Excerpts from a conversation with Aatish Taseer, whose book Stranger to History: A Son's Journey through Islamic Lands was published recently….


A personal journey to discover an absentee father has brought Aatish Taseer, who divides his time between Delhi and London, into the public eye. Thanks to his debut book Stranger to History: A Son's Journey through Islamic Lands. Born to an Indian mother and a Pakistani father, Taseer is a new generation writer who seeks to link the specific with the universal, the immediate with the infinite. Not yet 30, he speaks five languages and answers questions with a frankness so characteristic of somebody at peace with his world. Excerpts from a conversation…
Stranger to History seems to be drawing predictable responses, ranging from "exhilarating” to "ferocious”, depending...
May. 03, 2009
Journey to the Centre of the Faith
by Taran N Khan

May. 01, 2009
Profile: Khaleej Times
by Aayush Soni

AATISH Taseer combines travel and memoir as narrative tools to try and find out what makes Islam so complex.

His first book Stranger To History: A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands was launched recently and has been under the spotlight because of its controversial content. Aatish is the son of veteran Indian journalist Tavleen Singh and Pakistani businessman-turned-politician Salman Taseer. The parents had a whirlwind affair in the late 70s after which Tavleen discovered that she was pregnant. Aatish grew up in New Delhi with his mother and grandparents and never met his father until the age of 21. He now holds a British passport, and lives between London and Delhi.
Stranger To History: A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands was the result of an angry letter Aatish received from his estranged father, Salman, in response to an article Aatish had penned for Prospect magazine. Aatish visited the 
English suburb Beeston - the city where perpet...
Apr. 26, 2009
The Good Son
by Preeti Singh

Apr. 26, 2009
A Son's Lost Inheritance
by Neha Tara Singh

Apr. 21, 2009
Review: Financial Times
by Emmanuelle Smith

The 7/7 attacks in London and a vitriolic letter from his estranged Muslim father prompt Taseer to explore Islam, a religion he knew little of despite his Indian and Pakistani origins. He realised aged six that he was circumcised – but did not understand what this meant.
Taseer decides on a trip from one end of the Islamic world, in Istanbul, via the classical centre of Mecca and on through Iran to Pakistan.
As a travel book, Stranger to History is remarkable. The souks, the landscapes and the people are described in simple, poetic language.
But this is a personal voyage, a search for belonging during the course of which Taseer encounters "cultural Islam … with its mysticism, its tolerance, its song and its poetry”, and a radical, newer, "literal” Islam.
Indispensable reading for anyone who wants a wider understanding of the Islamic world, of its history and its politics.
Apr. 18, 2009
A long journey to Fatherland
by Soutik Biswas

A cross-country search for faith and personal roots questions Islam's future in the world

What does a young man, a love child of a cross-border romance between an estranged Indian Hindu journalist and a Pakistani Muslim politician-businessman, do when he seeks to understand his faith and an aloof father? Well, Aatish Taseer embarks on a journey of Islamic lands in what turns out be a robust debut in a thriving genre.

So in Stranger To History, two-thirds travelogue, one-third memoir, Taseer travels to what he calls a "strange arc of countries” - Turkey, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan - to find out how faith works on the people and the state. An interlocking narrative of a search to connect with his Pakistan-based father doesn't quite work all the time, but it is a brave attempt nonetheless.
Taseer's journey shows how once-rich and often heterogeneous societies have turned dysfunctional. Travelling throug...
Apr. 17, 2009
Review: Independent
by Ziauddin Sardar

Apr. 16, 2009
Time Out: The Outsider
by Avtar Singh

A young man's search for his father has yielded a book of some considerable depth, finds Avtar Singh.
Apr. 16, 2009

Book news
Apr. 16, 2009
Common Notes in the Discord
by Partha Chatterjee

Apr. 16, 2009
BW Books: Voyages of Self Discovery
by Aayush Soni

A journey through the Islamic world - especially in the post-9/11 era - is never easy. And what makes this journey tougher is its purpose: understanding Islam. Yet, Aatish Taseer succesfully travels through Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan and pens a poignant travelogue-cum-autobiography which showcases the various facets of a religion which constantly clashes and fights to co-exist with other cultures.

Stranger To History: A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands (Picador India), Aatish's debut book, was the result of an angry letter Aatish received from his father Salman Taseer accusing him of spreading anti-Muslim propoganda and failing to embrace the "Pakistani ethos". In a conversation with Aayush Soni, Aatish explains why this book is so difficult to describe, how secularism became a form of religion in Turkey and what it means to be half-Indian in Pakistan 

It is tough categorising your book as an autobiography or a travelogue ...
Apr. 15, 2009
The Week's Bestsellers

Stranger to History #1, Non-fiction Bestseller
Apr. 13, 2009
Khushwant Singh: Present in our Memory Games
by Khushwant Singh

If both your parents are Muslims, that is no problem: you are Muslim. If one parent is Muslim and the other not, you have the choice of opting for the faith of one or the other. However, if the father is a Muslim of one nationality, and the mother is a non-Muslim of another nation, the child is all at sea, not knowing what faith or nation he or she should opt for. That, in short, is the case of Aatish Taseer: his father Salman Taseer is presently governor of Pakistan's Punjab. His mother Tavleen is Sikh and a well-known journalist who writes regularly for The Indian Express. His parents separated soon after their short-lived liaison, met up briefly in London and then went their own ways. Aatish was brought up by Tavleen's parents and spent his childhood with his Sikh cousins. The discovery of his being different from them makes amusing reading. One afternoon playing with his cousins he went to a quiet corner of the garden to empty his bladder. A cousin who joined him to do the same sta...
Apr. 13, 2009
Dagbladet: Review

Apr. 11, 2009
Dehshatgardh Aakhir kaun hein?

Khushwant Singh
Apr. 11, 2009
Review: The Scotsman
by Tom Adair

NOW THAT THE GUIDEBOOK writers and package providers have opened up a mass market in soft adventure and off-the-track forays, travelling great distances is no longer the thing of endurance that once it was. This has made travel writing quirkier, sometimes gimmicky, more superficial.
How refreshing it is, then, to stumble on Stranger to History, a travelogue of sorts that takes you as deep as it takes you far. The book is gripping without resorting to ramped-up pseudo-thriller tension (with one exception – a scene which predictably subverts itself as it happens). Nor is it anxious to amuse you, charm or impress you. It does its own thing. It is a memoir as much as the journal of a fascinating and wholly focused quest.

Taseer has taken on the daunting role of puzzled inquisitor – both in search of his Muslim roots and an understanding of what the faith has come to mean. And yet he is also, even more earnestly, on the trail of the baff...
Apr. 04, 2009
Business Standard: A Thousand Splendid Sons
by Jai Arjun Singh

The Kaba could not disappoint because it was nothing. Its utter poverty expressed cosmic contempt for the things of the world. So silent and unrevealing a sanctum was this, that it implied faith, rewarding the believer with nothing, as if faith itself was the reward. Questions about unbending religious faith - the role it plays in the lives of different types of people, the constraints it creates and the repercussions for the modern world - are central to Aatish Taseer's Stranger to History: A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands. At one point in this travelogue-memoir, Taseer finds himself in the streets of Damascus on the day that the city's Danish embassy is burnt down by mobs protesting the cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad.
How can anyone have the freedom or the right to insult the Prophet, an acquaintance asks, and observing the chaos around him Taseer realises that the offensive cartoons could not be understood in Islamic terms because "the democratic rights and in...
Apr. 01, 2009
Himal: Fatherland
by Prashant Jha

When he was eight, Aatish Taseer sent a letter to his politician father, who was contesting elections in Pakistan, through his journalist mother, who was coming from India to cover the polls. They met and the letter was passed, but Taseer received no response. A few years later, from his boarding school in South India, Taseer decided to make a call to Lahore. His father picked up and said, curtly, that it was not a good time to talk. So, Taseer called the next morning and was told, perhaps by his dad himself, that the person he was looking for was not available. At 22, after finishing college in the US, Taseer decided that his quest to discover his father would require going to Pakistan.

It was perhaps Taseer's most important decision. In particular, it was one that would eventually lead him on a journey to confront the past – his own and that of his family, going back generations. But that journey came later, a few years after he had gone to Pakistan to meet his other...
Mar. 30, 2009
Penguin Acquires World Rights From Debut Novelist Tipped For Greatness

Penguin has bought world rights to a stunning debut novel by Aatish Taseer - tipped by V S Naipaul as 'a writer to watch' - from Andrew Kidd at Aitken Alexander. Set in contemporary Delhi, The Temple-Goers presents a world of drink and designer labels, literature and laptops, and heralds the arrival of the cool new urban voice of modern India. It tells the gripping story of a wealthy, cosmopolitan member of India's English-speaking elite who forms an unlikely but intense friendship with his personal trainer, a brilliantly charismatic, enigmatic young man on the make, only to find himself embroiled in a high-profile, politically sensitive murder investigation. The novel is Will Hammond's first fiction buy for Viking. He said: "From the first paragraph of this extraordinary novel, Aatish Taseer completely refreshes our image of modern India. But while he treads some of the same turf as Kiran Desai and Aravind Adiga, his voice reminds me far more of Bret Easton Ellis, in its power...

Mar. 30, 2009
Writing Manto

A new translation of the master story-teller, Sadat Hasan Manto, has just been released.
Mar. 28, 2009
Oppgjør med farens tro

«Tror du virkelig du gjør Taseer-navnet en tjeneste ved å spre denne formen for støtende antimuslimsk propaganda? Denne setningen i et brev fra en far til en sønn ble startskuddet for en reise skribenten Aatish Taseer la ut på i slutten av 2005. En jakt etter tro og tilhørighet, som nesten et år seinere hadde ført ham til Lahore via Istanbul, Damaskus, Mekka og Teheran, og som nå er blitt til boka «Min islamske reise» Boka er samtidig en sønns jakt på sin far og derfor må forfatterens biografi på plass:

Aatish Taseer er utdannet i USA, men vokste opp i India sammen med sin mor, den kjente journalisten Tavleen Singh. Etternavnet har han fra sin pakistanske far, den kjente avismagnaten og politikeren Salman Taseer. Han dro sin vei da Aatish var to år, og ikke før 20 år seinere, og på sønnens initiativ, så de to hverandre igjen.

Mar. 27, 2009
"The Temple-Goers" to Viking

Viking editor Will Hammond has bought world rights to The Temple-Goers, a literary début by Aatish Taseer, described by V S Naipaul as "a writer to watch”. The deal, Hammond's first for a fiction title and Viking's first world rights deal in literary fiction for some years, was conducted by Andrew Kidd of Aitken Alexander for a "very good sum”.

The novel is set in Delhi and is said to herald the arrival of "the cool new urban voice of modern India”. The narrator is a wealthy, cosmopolitan member of India's English-speaking elite, who strikes up an unlikely friendship with his personal trainer, a charismatic young man on the make. When the trainer becomes a suspect in his own wife's murder, the well-connected narrator pulls strings to shift the blame onto the trainer's homosexual brother-in-law.

Taseer is the son of a Pakistani businessman and politician. Hammond compared his "sophisticated and unflinching” voice to that of Bret Easto...
Mar. 22, 2009
The man who was my father

A 22- year- old sons first meeting with his estranged dad across the border

HELLO, Salmaan. This is Aatish Taseer. I am in Lahore now and would like to see you. There was a brief silence and my father, as if his response had been years in the making, said, What would be the objective? I was grateful for the sting it caused. It gave me the indignation I needed. As long as I didnt give in to rudeness and insensitivity, I would retain the higher ground. It didnt feel like a tender reunion with my long- lost father but a contest, a Saturn and Jupiter fight to the finish.

I can understand, I started slowly, why you may not want to see me, but it is important to me that I see you, if only for a short time. He said nothing.

Will this be possible? I asked, in a still steadier voice.

Ill have to think about it, my father said.

There are many things to consider. He hung up.

I had failed to secure a meeting with my father.
Mar. 14, 2009
Partition of the heart (Book Review)
by Robin Yassin-Kassab

Aatish Taseer grew up in secular, pluralist India. His early influences included his mother's Sikhism, a Christian boarding school, and He-Man cartoons. Nagging behind this cultural abundance, however, was an absence: of his estranged father, the Pakistani politician Salmaan Taseer. The best of Stranger to History is the son's journey of the subtitle: the movement towards - and away from - his father's world. Taseer describes the embarrassment, frustration and occasional joy of meeting his father and half-siblings, and of approaching a cultural and national identity which painfully excludes him. Alternating with this story is a more generalised journey into Islam, from the Leeds suburb that produced the 7/7 bombers, through Istanbul, Damascus and Mecca, to Iran and Pakistan. On the way Taseer observes the "cartoon riots", is interrogated by Iranian security officials and watches the response in his father's Lahore home to Benazir Bhutto's assassination. The writing is eleg...

Mar. 14, 2009
Dainik Bhaskar Review

Review in Hindi - Dainik Bhaskar
Mar. 14, 2009
Dainik Bhaskar Review

Dainik Bhaskar Review, Hindustan, New Delhi
Mar. 05, 2009
Outlook: Indus Potsherd of our Times
by Anjali Puri

Like many aspiring writers in their mid-20s, Aatish Taseer had a failed novel in his drawer and was struggling with another - a fictional version of his own dramatic life story. Briefly, the story is this: a short, intense relationship between a Pakistani politician, Salmaan Taseer, and an Indian journalist, Tavleen Singh, produces a child. As the relationship founders, the father (by his son's account) abandons the mother and infant in London. They move to Delhi, where the boy, Aatish, grows up in an elite Sikh family but with an awareness of being 'different' because of his Muslim and Pakistani ancestry. Twice in his childhood, he makes long-distance overtures to his father, but is rebuffed.

Dad Pak Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, Mom journalist Tavleen Singh

In 2002, at the age of 21, he tries again, by simply landing up in Lahore, and meets with greater success. Salmaan's political career has waned - the military rules; his party's boss, Benazir Bhutto, is in ...
Mar. 01, 2009
Literary Review: Tyranny of Trifles
by Justin Marozzi

Tyranny of Trifles: Stranger to History Review by Justin Marozzi
Nov. 30, -0001
a personal and political mix hits home
by Amanda Hopkinson

Aatish Taseer belongs to a recent generation of Indian novelists writing in English, addressing an international readership. Unlike predecessors, colonial reference points are diminished, as writer and reader commute across the global village. Taseer's wide and analytical perspective has something in common with contemporaries Amit Chaudhuri and Neel Mukherjee, but his style – at once highly intellectual and deeply poetic – is unique.

This immense and intense fourth "novel” is part fiction, part biography, part national history and part linguistic lexicon, crossing boundaries of genre and geography as it travels from America to Asia by way of Europe.

The narrator is Skanda, son of linguistics professor Toby Ketu. The opening sentence introduces him as "deep into his translation of The Birth of Kumara when his mother calls to say his father is on his deathbed”. Toby's body is to be returned from Genev...