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May 19, 2020

Amorous novel featuring queer protagonists

Islamabad

May 19, 2020

Akhtar Raza Saleemi’s novel ‘Jaage Hain Khawab Mein’ defies categorisation; it is a science-fiction, real-life, historical, allegorical, fantasy and intellectual all at once. These elements should feel incompatible, but in the extraordinary world of this novel they merge in a way that makes perfect internal sense.

It is a novel with time layering upon the characters and geography, folklores and outer-space weaving into the real world. Cracks of light are always there to penetrate the darkness of minds. It’s also a celebration of the need for optimism, compassion and teamwork in the face of disasters both individual and communal.

The shape of the novel, Akhtar Raza Saleemi’s observations, the way he makes dreams appear with associations make the reader feel the high of his imagination. His dreaming mind is gifted at combining unexpected associations with historical events.

Many layers of creative inspiration arise from the dreams of the novel’s characters or their hypnologic point where images spring to life before their eyes as they drift towards the edge of sleep. Writer engages consciously with the images and experiences his dreaming mind comes up with, and co-creates the dream through novel’s characters. Going through the novel shows his creative genius.

Akhtar Raza Saleemi is a master of leaping from subject to subject. Indeed, he reinvents the moment of sudden and great revelation or realization through language that has many traits of aphoristic writing.

What is brilliant about the book is that the colour of characters’ dreams. The characters sort of get to exist outside of time and therefore, outside of impermanence.

There are several elements that play into making this novel successful. The biggest element is how does the author i.e. the central character of the novel named Zamaan, the protagonist, elect to stay in different times?

Zamaan who hails from Noorabad and lives at the banks of the Haro River is no ordinary character whose sense of place and belonging is constantly in flux. Also fond of half-awake dreams, he travels back in time to witness history. He sees the world in a kaleidoscope of shapes, colours and smells and seems to have gone through life with the vivid imagination of an artist.

‘Jaage Hain Khawab Mein’ is full of multiple time periods. It has adventures, friends, enemies who do all those things you’d expect people screwing with the timeline to do, including falling in love.

Part love story, part supernatural, part mystery, this novel is all the things. If you want to become completely obsessed with the history of living between dream and reality, this novel is the starting off point. ‘Jaage Hain Khawab Mein’ is the facilitator, opening a pathway to transcendent affinity, if our society learns to trust each other.