The River, the Town (Hardcover)
A poignant and powerful first novel following the breakup of a Pakistani family in the face of climate disaster, and their indefatigable search for stability, love, and belonging. In the rural town in Pakistan where Baadal grows up, children are named like talismans to sustain life and ward off unhappiness. At seventeen, Baadal has come to understand why his parents gave him that name, with hopes that their Big River will one day flow wide again, and their thirst will be quenched after years of drought. But in the final year of his schooling, abundance seems impossibly far away. As his parents' marriage--full of rage, despair, and often violence--reaches a breaking point, the only comfort Baadal can afford is a budding kinship with Meena, a divorced older woman he meets on the banks of the drying river. Meena has only just escaped her abusive husband, but her resistance to remarry soon gives way to the promise of stability and companionship that Baadal offers. Together, they leave the Town in search of greater fortunes in the City. But even strong-willed, independent Meena finds herself bowed by the strain of Badaal's punishing work schedule, her struggling beauty parlor, and the tension with Baadal's mother, Raheela, who fights for control of her son as she seeks to leave behind a life of disappointments and discover a freedom she's never known. Told in rotating perspectives spanning from 1966 to 1998, THE RIVER, THE TOWN is an intimate portrait of a family unraveling in the throes of indigence, and a tribute to the wounded love that keeps them tethered to each other. With stark and candid prose, Farah Ali traces one family's fortunes to illuminate the relentless cycle of inequity, juxtaposing the tragic and grueling realities of poverty with the enduring struggle for compassion and humanity.