NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES AND NPR
WINNER OF THE 2023 L.A. TIMES BOOK PRIZE, ART SEIDENBAUM AWARD FOR FIRST FICTION
“Stunning not only on account of the author’s talent, of which there is clearly plenty, but also in its humanity.” —New York Times Book Review (cover)
Sent back to his birthplace—Lahore’s notorious red-light district—to hush up the murder of a girl, a man finds himself in an unexpected reckoning with his past.
Not since childhood has Faraz returned to the Mohalla, in Lahore’s walled inner city, where women continue to pass down the art of courtesan from mother to daughter. But he still remembers the day he was abducted from the home he shared with his mother and sister there, at the direction of his powerful father, who wanted to give him a chance at a respectable life. Now Wajid, once more dictating his fate from afar, has sent Faraz back to Lahore, installing him as head of the Mohalla police station and charging him with a mission: to cover up the violent death of a young girl.
It should be a simple assignment to carry out in a marginalized community, but for the first time in his career, Faraz finds himself unable to follow orders. As the city assails him with a jumble of memories, he cannot stop asking questions or winding through the walled city’s labyrinthine alleyways chasing the secrets—his family’s and his own—that risk shattering his precariously constructed existence.
Profoundly intimate and propulsive, The Return of Faraz Ali is a spellbindingly assured first novel that poses a timeless question: Whom do we choose to protect, and at what price?