A charged, hypnotic debut novel about a boy’s life-changing summer in rural Pakistan: a story of fathers, sons, and the consequences of desire.
At age sixteen, Fahad hopes to spend the summer with his mother in London. His father, Rafik, has other plans: hauling his son to Abad, the family’s feudal estate in upcountry, Pakistan. Rafik wants to toughen up his sensitive boy, to teach him about power, duty, family—to make him a man. He enlists Ali, a local teenager, in this project, hoping his presence will prove instructive.
Instead, over the course of one hot, indolent season, attraction blooms between the two boys, and Fahad finds himself seduced by the wildness of the land and its inhabitants: the people, who revere and revile his father in turn; cousin Mousey, who lives alone with a man he calls his manager; and most of all, Ali, who threatens to unearth all that is hidden.
Decades later, Fahad is living abroad when he receives a call from his mother summoning him home. His return will force him to face the past. Taymour Soomro’s Other Names for Love is a tale of masculinity, inheritance, and desire set against the backdrop of a country’s troubled history, told with uncommon urgency and beauty.
About the Author
Taymour Soomro is a British Pakistani writer. He studied law at Cambridge University and Stanford Law School. He has worked as a corporate solicitor in London and Milan, a lecturer at a university in Karachi, an agricultural estate manager in rural Sindh and a publicist for a luxury fashion brand in London. His short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker and The Southern Review. He has published a textbook on law with Oxford University Press, has written extensively for the Pakistani news media, and is the co-editor, with Deepa Anappara, of a creative writing handbook on fiction, race and culture.
“A moving first novel about fathers and sons, longing and the struggle of being at home in the world.”
—Fatima Bhutto, The Guardian (Most Anticipated)
“The novel deftly captures the way the past—both memories and inheritances—informs the present and the future. Despite its concern for the past though, the narrative never feels stalled, moving forward with urgent and emotionally resonant prose. A deft examination of sexuality, history, and father-son relationships.”
"An accomplished work which spans years and explores desire, inheritance and the power of memory . . . Elegant and entrancing."
“Soomro’s nuanced debut contends with themes of sexuality and masculinity in Pakistan . . . In sharp prose, Soomro brings clarity and emotional heft to Fahad’s wistfulness . . . This author is one to watch.”
“Soomro’s debut novel is a shimmering, sometimes hypnotic story about fathers and sons, silence and belonging, and what it means to love and leave a place.”
—Laura Sackton, Book Riot
“Friction builds, not just between Rafik and Fahad but between Rafik and almost everyone . . . Soomro writes clean, vivid sentences . . . Other Names for Love delivers one message powerfully: You will never, no matter how far away you get, be beyond your family’s power to wound.”
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times Book Review
“A beautiful novel on the desire to leave and the hope to remain, the need to find oneself among one’s people and away from them, and it is all stitched together with finely strung sentences, careful and taut and precise, as though the whole thing and what it describes is in constant danger of unravelling.”
—Hisham Matar, author of The Return
“Taymour Soomro’s debut is an elegant and affecting story about love—paternal, filial, romantic, even patriotic. Other Names for Love probes the mystery of who we are by looking at the places (our homelands and wherever we flee to) and people (our parents and lovers) that forge us.”
—Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind
“Such a deftly told and evocative story of duty, masculinity and desire.”
—Kamila Shamsie, author of Home Fire
“Spell-binding, like a song overheard in the night, one you follow like a map to the singer. Other Names for Love feels both new and ancient, a transnational patriarchal puzzle made from legacies embraced and defied, and the love lost and found within. A masterful debut.”
—Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
“A powerful, moving novel and an impressive debut. Soomro writes with both urgency and care.”
—Mohsin Hamid, author of Exit West
“A twenty-first century variation of Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons, Other Names for Love explores the age-old dilemma faced by all those whose childhood is defined, and whose future is decreed, by tradition: how to carve a space for one’s innermost self, how to love without turning oneself into love’s sacrifice, how to be courageous without losing one’s tenderness. A keen-eyed observer and a sensitive storyteller, Taymour Soomro is a thrilling new addition to international literature.”
—Yiyun Li, author of Where Reasons End and Must I Go
“An exceptional novel about fathers and sons, desire and love, and the long reach of the past. It’s a relief to encounter writing this beautifully wrought, to enter a world this meticulously realized, and to read a novel so bold, so committed.”
—Sunjeev Sahota, author of The Year of the Runaways and China Room
“This haunted, haunting novel is about the cruelties we commit in our search for freedom and the bonds from which we can never be free. Taymour Soomro’s piercing insight is that both the freedom and the bonds are constituent of love.”
—Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness and What Belongs to You