Noor, an unlikely child, forces her family to confront secrets of its past. Among them, the 1971 conflict which gave birth to Bangladesh is the most frightening. Set in modern day Pakistan, in a home, Sajida, and her grandfather, Ali, a former army officer, on haunting trips to their previous lives. Noor is a story of Sajida's quest to understand who she is, where she has come from, who her father is, and what he has done. This is a novel about the effects of war and the possibilities inherent in love and forgiveness. It explores what this means for a father, his daughter, and the family they have made.
"Rich, resonant and lyrical, Noor is a novel which tackles, unflinchingly, the legacy of war, and, like the extraordinary child for whom it is named, makes of great suffering a work of beauty. Sorayya Khan has written a powerful and haunting novel, and a wholly original book".
-Claire Messud, author of The Last Life and The Hunters: Two short novels
"Noor draws you in with its spare, evocative portrayal of one woman's internal landscape, only to shift its lens to war, loss and the recovery of our collective humanity. Sorayya Khan's moving novel reveals how the lives of girls and women in Pakistan and Bangladesh tell these stories of alternate futures, not just the ongoing lives of the past."
-Elisabeth Armstrong - Smith College, author of The Retreat from Organization: US Feminism Reconceptualized
Sorayya Khan’s work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, The North American Review, The Asian Pacific American Journal, and anthologies of Pakistani writing. She was a Fulbright Creative Writing Scholar in Pakistan and Bangladesh in 1999-2000 and was the 1995 Malahat Review Novella Prize Winner. She has lived in Austria, Pakistan, and the United States. She currently lives in Ithaca, New York, with her husband and two children and is completing another novel.
‘In the farthest corner of the room, a soft glow lit up a scene. An adolescent girl – twelve or thirteen by the likes of her curves – hovered above a wooden chair. The girl seemed to float in her movements, her hand rising ever so slowly in the air until the arc stopped on her painted lips. Her long hair, an electric combination of oranges and pinks, was thick like a rope and waved gently over one shoulder and then the other.
Sajida stared at the strange girl. Her color was richly dark, her flat nose was bridged by oddly slanted eyes, and her perfectly sculpted miniature ears appeared as if they’d been meant for a far younger child. The girl’s white teeth seemed too big for her mouth, yet the crowded rectangles fit one after another in an impeccable row of white. Each wrist ended in a pudgy bracelet, like those of a healthy baby. Although the girl’s characteristics were other-worldly, they were familiar to Sajida, as if she might have located the striking combination of grace and innocence in someone close to her or, perhaps, somewhere in her own self.
Suddenly, the giggles stopped and the suspended girl focused her attention Sajida. The velvet texture of her big black eyes poured into her plea.
“Ammi,” she called in a high pitched voice of a young child registering an allconsuming need for her mother…..’