A Guardian Book of the Year and Chapters/Indigo
In the foothills of a mountain range in northern Pakistan is a
beautiful orchard. Swallows wheel and dive silently over the
branches, and the scent of jasmine threads through the air.
Pomegranates hang heavy, their skins darkening to a deep crimson.
Neglected now, the trees are beginning to grow wild, their fruit
left to spoil on the branches.
Many miles away, a frail young man is flung out of prison gates.
Looking up, scanning the horizon for swallows in flight, he
stumbles and collapses in the roadside dust. His ravaged body tells
the story of fifteen years of brutality.
Just one image has held and sustained him through the dark times
-- the thought of the young girl who had left him dumbstruck with
wonder all those years ago, whose eyes were lit up with life.
A tale of tenderness in the face of great and corrupt power,
In The Orchard, The Swallows is a heartbreaking novel
written in prose of exquisite stillness and beauty.