Shadow of the Pomegranate Tree began on Granada. it was 1991, after the first Gulf War. An ignorant remark on BBC television enraged me. It was something like “the Arabs are a people without a political culture..” And that was why I started thinking of the history of Islam in Europe. … When I wrote the first novel of the Quintet, the late Edward Said said:”you can’t stop now. Tell the whole bloody story.” He meant the whole story of the clash between Western Christendom and Islamic Arab civilisation. So i did and the process took 20 years. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan kept interrupting, taking me back to non-fiction. …
My own culture and political formation took place in Lahore where I was born and raised. So the life of that city is dear to me. I knew that the fifth novel in the series would be set in modern times and Fatherland is a place I know very well.
Razeshta Sethna praises Night of the Golden Butterfly:
Ali pays perfect attention to detail, reminding the reader of the merits of Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy. Whether describing the bonds of friendship, the sights and sounds of Lahore or the state of Fatherland in the throes of a military dictatorship, the writer’s grip on detail never slackens.
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