“Thinner than Skin” by Uzma Aslam Khan

It is at times when you pass a glance at those that move that which is stationary in you, like a wavering boat heading home only with the accompanying current. There isn’t one concluding colour in you painting, not ever one concluding stroke, and not one resolution emotion is the mind, it is the amalgamation of sorts that conforms into the skin that you wear, either around others, for their eyes, or for your own self staring down your bathroom mirror. It doesn’t matter which skin we wear when we wear it and for whom, but what does matter is that the skin we choose to wear is yet thinner than the one that shows.

IMG_2291 edited

Often what we are initially born with, gifts hidden among the skin we choose to wear, it all conforms and metamorphoses into a difference, a compound but with the core elements completely similar to their initial edifice. However, it must not be forgotten that the skin we wear constitutes that which metamorphoses and the longer you wear it, the more it solidifies around each nook and cranny of your existence and becomes thinner than a thread that passes through the needle.

The Author, Plot and More Information

The acclaimed author of this book is Uzma Aslam Khan. She is a Pakistani writer who was born in Lahore. And according to her bio in the book, after her birth, she and her parents moved to the Philippines and then to Japan and then to England. And then in 1979, they returned to Pakistan and settled in Karachi. She is the author of five novels and her second novel, Trespassing was shortlisted for Commonwealth Prize Eurasia 2003 and has been translated into 13 languages. In fact, the novel Thinner than Skin was nominated for Man Asian Literary Prize 2012.

Making Write/Right Our World: A conversation with author, Uzma ...
Photo Credits: https://cafedissensusblog.com

Here is a list of her notable works:

  • The Story of Noble Rot
  • Trespassing
  • The Geometry of God
  • The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali

The main characters in the book include:

  1. Farhana
  2. Nadir
  3. Irfan
  4. Wes
  5. Kiran
  6. Maryam
  7. Ghafoor

Thinner than Skin is a love story between Farhana and Nadir as they travel back to their native homeland of Pakistan to not only apprehend their own destinies but travel up to the North of Pakistan where Farhana and her friend Wes are exhilarated to study the country’s prepossessing glaciers. Whereas Nadir is kept company by his old childhood friend, Irfan who is well-versed and knowledgeable about the traditions and people en route their destinations. It is in their travelling journey that they meet a family of Gujjar nomads whose family and a series of unfortunate events leads to an immense learning experience for the travellers about the politics and landscape of Pakistan.

My Review and Experience Regarding The Book

Thinner than Skin by Uzma Aslam Khan has its praises and criticism like any other work of art. It has a convoluted plot with spontaneous connections here and there that make keep you flabbergasted with wonder. Just by reading the book, it is evident that a lot of thought has been inculcated in the intricately bound plot along with the character development of each of the character included in the plot. This impeccable character development makes you understand and bond with the characters in a way that you feel each and every tumult and curve in their story.

The plot though intricate, what makes it a little more special is a dash of philosophy, a certain unfathomable depth in the words that you come across. For example:

“Her favourite glyph was that of three horses, one bowing, one dancing, and the third looking back. Hospitality, liberty and memory.”

– Uzma Aslam Khan, Thinner than Skin

Additionally, the book itself is pretty informative as it includes an amalgamation of sorts such as current affairs, politics, history, international affairs, culture, tradition, religion, trade and travel. It simultaneously includes a wonder of friendship and love between people and how that can either be in similitude or alteration. Then there is also this incessant switching in the two, hand in hand stories, one of the contemporary travellers, and one of the Gujjar nomads whose life is filled with the contemporary sorrow as they strive to survive in the ways of their forefathers.

In a sense of constructive criticism, at times especially in the late beginning, the plot tends to drag a little which might make the story a little tedious but the plot twists further in the story are worth the reading journey.

My Favorite Lines From the Book

Here are a few lines from the book Thinner than Skin by Uzma Aslam Khan that have stayed with me:

(P.S. All of these quotes/lines ARE from Thinner than Skin and they are written by Uzma Aslam Khan, I was just too lazy to write it beside every line.)

  • “Which is worse? A crime committed because you don’t look or because you do? The one that is an accident or the one that is calculated.”
  • “There are always openings in the mountains. Always. You can find them. If you learn to track with sound.”
  • “I was going to give you a choice but the dying have no choice.”
  • “The farther into the future I’d go, the less my past would shadow me.”
  • “There was a limit to the extent of baggage any creature could hold.”
  • “She – all beautiful things are feminine to me, I make no apologies – “
  • “He said you can reproduce an image, but you can’t reproduce a soul.”
  • “She gazed at death with a sadness as deep and liquid as the lake, a sadness from which, her dark eyes said, she was going to have to learn to surface.”
  • “Forgiveness is thinner than skin.”
  • “There was no deeper hell than a pair of eyes without a voice.”

“While you cannot stop a heart from breaking, you can keep the pieces warm.”

– Uzma Aslam Khan, Thinner than Skin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s