Drowning Shadows – A Novel, Umair Naeem, Amaryllis, Pp 210, Rs 250.00
Here comes a spiritual thriller by a Karachi-based author who is currently working as a marketer. The book depicts the intricacies of human relationships and the ruinous effects of wild ambition. In between are thrown in, in a good measure, the conflicts of three women’s desires and expectations.
As the protagonist Hyder Waseem battles for life, the book traces his journey at two levels – the physical where he is a successful fashion photographer and at the metaphysical level, where he is trapped in the craze of drug addiction and forced to confront his failings. We get a glimpse of the fashion world in Karachi – a world where glamour and fame is power, loyalties follow where money beckons, lust is legitimate and everybody struggles to find love.
There is no doubt that Hyder is a shrewd man; at the age of 34, he has had 10 years of experience in Karachi’s cut-throat fashion industry. He has needed every bit of that shrewdness to reach this position – the pinnacle of his success. “Since day one of his career in photography, it had been obvious that to be an ambitious and successful photographer, he had to be clever. He had also realised that survival and success in his city often depended on how much one would be willing to give …and take.”
The book deals with Hyder’s relations with three women – Natalia Ahmed, Pakistan’s best-known model; Anab Mohsin, his protégé and personal assistant; and Sophie, the fiancé of his friend Osman Mehmood. Natalia Ahmed is the last in the long line of women Hyder has been with. All of them seem to find his dizzying success and striking face with a garnish of impeccably maintained stubble, hard to resist. Natalia is 25, curvaceous and delectable, but what makes her different is the fact that she is uninhibited, be it in bed or in front of the camera. “She possessed an unrestrained wildness that he had never seen before and which made him want to possess her every time he was with her. She was talented and was drunk on ambition. Like him she wanted it all and she had no qualms about how she got that.”
Anab Mohsin is young, energetic and very sharp. Still in her early twenties, she is fascinated by the media. She has left her hometown Lahore, hoping for success in the bustling metropolis of Karachi.
Sophie is strikingly beautiful and about to get married to Hyder’s best friend.
The novel explores the characters of these three women and how their past events shape them. It also points how seemingly different they are, yet inherently similar in terms of their desires and insecurities. This novel is about ambitious people, their expectations and relationships and the difference between what they want and what they really get.
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