The River, The Town



“The story of urbanization, the divide between urban and rural, the burning desire to trade the province for the metropolis, is at the heart of modern South Asia. Farah Ali takes this story and turns it into a tremendously personal tale of a single family. The stench of poverty that Farah’s characters carry on themselves is its own animal, sharing space on every page. Farah has expertly crafted characters whose lives are overrun by economic struggle and climate change, sketching them in with electrifying details, unwavering compassion, and impressive clarity. There is none of the romanticization of struggle, no simplification of precarity, that so often makes its way into South Asian English-language fiction. The prose is stark and unadorned, but it has burned itself on my mind, and will do so with other lucky readers as well. This book is a marvelous achievement.” —Dur e Aziz Amna, author of American Fever

“Told in spare, lovely prose, The River, The Town, tautly and magnetically juxtaposes climate-induced poverty with fraught family relationships. Ali’s portrayal of Meena, Baadal and Raheela at different stages of their lives, probing compassionately into memories, dreams, overheard conversations, will stay with you long after the last page. A must for any reader interested in the human impact of climate-induced scarcity and sustained hope.” —Chaya Bhuvaneswar, PEN/ American finalist for White Dancing Elephants: Stories

The River, The Town shimmers like a clear, blue stream. Farah Ali’s debut novel, which is set in a small town in Pakistan against the backdrop of a debilitating drought, will force you to rethink everything you ever thought you needed. Ali is a talent, and where she shines is in her ability to blend the catastrophic with the everyday. This is a book you’ll want to read, but it’s one you need to read, too.” —Rachel Beanland, author of The House is On Fire and Florence Adler Swims Forever

“Farah Ali’s stunning debut illustrates how even the deepest love can be corrupted by the encroaching devastation of a planet in crisis. An impoverished, drought-plagued town backdrops a tense family drama between a mother, her son, and the woman he loves. In this lushly painted world, villagers sleep on the ground, fight for food, and die from preventable illnesses, yet joy always manages to break through as does love – desperate, wounded, intimate, and true. The River, The Town surveys the losses we bring upon ourselves, the losses forced upon us by an unforgiving world, and the gains when we persevere.”  —Laura Warrell, author of Sweet, Soft, Plenty, Rhythm