Song of Gulzarina: Special offer USdefeatAfghan

A suicide bombing is being planned in a residential street in Manchester. Behind it lie Saleem Khan’s vivid memories – some full of regret and yearning, others humorous and yet others overshadowed by the surreal brutality of the war in Afghanistan.

ISBN Print: 978-0995222359 (paperback)
ISBN eBook: 978-0-9952223-6-6
Publication Date: Pre-publication 14 November 2016
Page Count: 192
Binding Type: Paperback
Trim Size: 6in x 9in
Language: English
Colour: B&W
Print book available from: Daraja Press - price includes postage
E-pub available from: By request
Kindle version available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Song-Gulzarina-Tariq-Mehmood-ebook/dp/B01N25QCVX/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1487794585&sr=8-1&keywords=song+of+gulzarina
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Tariq Mehmood is an award winning novelist and documentary film-maker. His first novel, Hand On the Sun (London: Penguin Books, 1983), dealt with the experience of the resistance to racism by young migrant to the UK of the 1970s and…

    SPECIAL OFFER TO MARK US DEFEAT IN AFGHANISTAN : Song of Gulzarina + You’re Not Here for 50% discount: Coupon Code: usdefeatafghan


    A suicide bombing is being planned in Manchester, UK. Behind it lie Saleem Khan’s vivid memories – some full of regret and yearning, others humorous and yet others overshadowed by the surreal brutality of war.

    In the 1960s, he leaves his lover, his job as a teacher and his home in rural Pakistan and travels to Bradford, a town seething with racism where Asians are ‘Pakis’ and their labour is cheap. He finds a job working in a mill on an all-Asian night-shift, becomes an active trade unionist and, when the mills close down, he drives a taxi. He gives up his religion and eventually falls in love with an English woman.

    But in the 1980s Pakistan draws him back. Now regarded as a smart ‘abroadi’, he gets involved as the English-speaking partner in his cousin’s transport business. When a truck driver he knows does not return to base, Saleem Khan sets out to find him and unwittingly gets drawn across the border and into the killing fields of Afghanistan. Here, among Russian soldiers, Saudi Arabian Sheikhs, American Pirs, prostitutes and the holy warriors of the Mujahadeen, who take their orders and weapons from the United States, he meets Gulzarina, the woman whose life and experiences in a war without end allow him to finally make sense of his own.

    Tariq Mehmood has written a powerful tale and his voice in the current political climate is important. Through a strong sense of the spoken word, an under-heard narrative gains momentum. This book is pure entertainment but it is also a cautionary tale. A question embedded in a Song. What happens when people are ignored and suppressed for too long? Where does that energy go? It is the reader’s gain that this particular writer has put his own spark into Song for Gulzarina. https://muscattales.com/2016/11/21/speaking-in-bombs-book-review-song-of-gulzarina-by-tariq-mehmood/

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    Customer Reviews

    1-5 of 13 reviews

    • J Rose

      “Tariq Mehmood has written a powerful tale and his voice in the current political climate is important. Through a strong sense of the spoken word, an under-heard narrative gains momentum. This book is pure entertainment but it is also a cautionary tale. A question embedded in a Song. What happens when people are ignored and suppressed for too long? Where does that energy go? It is the reader’s gain that this particular writer has put his own spark into Song for Gulzarina.”
      https://muscattales.com/2016/11/21/speaking-in-bombs-book-review-song-of-gulzarina-by-tariq-mehmood/

      November 21, 2016
    • Daraja Press

      Abeera Khan: Kohl: a Journal for Body and Gender Research, Vol. 2, no. 2, Winter 2016
      A novel centred on a Pakistani immigrant’s plan to commit a suicide bombing in Manchester, England, in the wake of the War on Afghanistan, can easily be read as a familiar post-9/11 tragedy. We can assume it is a story of radicalisation, where a character reaches his breaking point in response to a series of unfortunate and unjust geopolitical events. On the outset, then, Tariq Mehmood’s Song of Gulzarina may seem like a predictable political commentary-cum-fable warning against the constraints of ideology and the violence of imperialism. However, it is both the author’s and the characters’ acute self-awareness of the familiarity of the plot, and their insistence on stressing the nuances of Saleem’s journey rather than the gravity of its end, that make for a compelling read.
      […]
      Reading Song of Gulzarina as a calamitous tale of vengeance would be an easy interpretation, but it would not do the novel justice. Saleem is advised against his planned suicide bombing by an acquaintance who once similarly sought retribution: “But that peace only lasted the night of my sleep, the pain never stopped in the day. Your pain will never go, no matter what you do” (212). Later in his life, during a tense conversation with his estranged daughter, Saleem echoes this advice to her: “There is us and our past, daughter. This pain will just keep us here” (194). Saleem understands the futility of vengeance for a tragedy-ridden past, yet he still continues to plan the suicide bombing. Saleem’s mission, then, can be simultaneously understood as a broken man’s final attempt to violently confront the systems that have failed him, and a regretful man’s hopeful attempt at redemption for his shortcomings by orchestrating his own end.
      http://kohljournal.org/song-of-gulzarina/

      December 14, 2016
    • Daraja Press

      Song of Gulzarina is a highly impressionable book, for it speaks directly and powerfully to the humanness of the reader. Song Of Gulzarina is an absolute worthy read. Lema Abeng-Nsah, Dunia: The Reader’s Magazine

      December 17, 2016
    • Daraja Press

      ‘Tariq Mehmood’s Song of Gulzarina (Daraja Press) is a highly involving novel which looks at the life of Saleem Khan, who migrates from Pakistan to Bradford in the 1960s full of expectation and ends up contemplating suicide bombing in 21st century Manchester. The novel ranges between the north of England, where it follows acutely the different sorts of racism confronting Pakistanis, and Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the effects of war and imperialism are never far away. Mehmood deals with some of the really big questions of our time – race, class, oppression, empire and war – through the eyes of a failed father and lover who nonetheless gains our sympathies. The scenes from Afghanistan during the war with Russia are particularly vivid, and show the Mujadeen and Americans working together; later bombing, this time by Nato, helps to explain the bitter opposition to the west which has led to the growth in terrorism in our century.’
      Lindsey German in Counterfire

      December 19, 2016
    • Daraja Press

      Claire Chambers, Huffington Post Mehmood is unswerving in his depiction of the racism that existed in Yorkshire mills in the 1970s as well as today’s virulent Islamophobia. After 9/11, a neighbour slams the door on Song of Gulzarina‘s Saleem with the words, ‘When are you lot going to bomb us then, eh?’ Despite the humiliation he suffers at the hands of many white Britons and his eviscerating hatred for Tony Blair, Saleem maintains a lifelong love for Carol, the daughter of his racist employer. … Mehmood’s novel is polemical and full of black humour

      December 21, 2016
    • Daraja Press

      5.0 out of 5 stars That rare breed – an entertaining political novel., 1 Mar. 2017
      By Amazon Customer
      This review is from: Song of Gulzarina (Paperback)
      Political novels that are entertaining as well as thought provoking are a real rarity, but Tariq Mehmood has managed the trick here. The language is deceptively simple but in the telling of the story there are is a great deal of insight to be gained into an area of modern life in the UK that many of us see all around us, but never have access to – the life and loves of a Pakistani “Abroadi.”

      This is a novel about alienation and identity, about a man caught between who he is, who he was, and who he wants to be. Saleem Khan leaves his village in Pakistan, his family and the girl he loves, to travel to the UK in order to make money to send home. Once away, he rapidly forgets his roots and becomes embroiled in life in Bradford at the end of the industrial era in the UK, but is unable to to either shed his past or fully embrace his new life. It’s the story of a weak man, always caught between his desires, his loves, the traditions from which he came and the life he is living now. In the course of his life, he wanders from one aspect of modern Pakistani life to the next, taking in leftist politics and trade unionism in the eighties, racial politics, the Taliban and radical Islam in both the UK and abroad. He falls in love with an English woman without ever falling out of love with his old girlfriend, and in doing so alienates himself from both. One after the other he looses or betrays all the things he loves and cares for, including, crucially, the respect of his only daughter.

      It’s a convincing story, well told, that brings the reader in contact with elements of the life of a Pakistani Abroadi, that, for this white reader at least, I’d be otherwise unlikely to make contact with. That it manages to do this with conviction and still manages to be entertaining, is a credit to the skill of its author. Tariq Mumood has created a marvellous character in Saleem Khan, who is at once passionate and weak, romantic and cynical, loving and selfish, who looses his principles at the puff of a breeze, but who tells his story with unwavering honesty. His is a journey from naivety to cynicism, in which he never looses his visions of love, even though he is too weak to fulfil any of them. Very much to be recommended!

      https://www.amazon.co.uk/Song-Gulzarina-Tariq-Mehmood/dp/0995222355/ref=cm_rdp_product

      March 2, 2017
    • Daraja Press

      5.0 out of 5 stars: This writer has a gift for witty dialogue, switching between registers with pitch perfect precision
      By Muscat Tales
      Tariq Mehmood has written a powerful tale and his voice in the current political climate is important. Through a strong sense of the spoken word, an under-heard narrative gains momentum. This book is pure entertainment but it is also a cautionary tale. A question embedded in a Song. What happens when people are ignored and suppressed for too long? Where does that energy go? It is the reader’s gain that this particular writer has put his own spark into Song for Gulzarina.
      https://www.amazon.co.uk/Song-Gulzarina-Tariq-Mehmood/dp/0995222355/ref=cm_rdp_product

      March 2, 2017
    • Daraja Press

      5.0 out of 5 stars: Powerfully gripping and humorous novel that remains mysterious at the same time whilst current issues in the world!
      By Matloub Husayn-Ali-Khan on 9 Feb. 2017

      I was given a complimentary copy of this very powerful novel Tariq Mehmood entitled: “Song of Gulzarina” and which had taken the author 10 years to complete and in the present political climate the narrative written – not usually heard by the reader. The story encapsulated within the novel and leaves a question mark on the many situations in which people are ignored and suppressed for a long-time – or that lid is lifted and which releases that pent-up anger and resentment.The story revolves around the main character Saleem Khan a Pakistani migrant who leaves his home, his job as a teacher and his woman in rural Pakistan and settles in Bradford, England and the story line also flits between North West of England and Pakistan.

      Very early on, as the story progresses – Saleem Khan gains employment at a textile mill in Yorkshire and gets involved in fighting for Asian workers right in the form of requesting better sanitary facilities. As usual, racism rears its ugly head and a white British manager Mr Anderson reacts to an incident related to the issue of unsuitable toilets and he (Mr Anderson) racially belittles the Asian workers:
      “….you filthy Paki bastards always sticking together’ Mr Anderson picked up another pipe and hit Salamat Ali Teka across the face!…’’

      The rest of the plot I could relate to and this was due to having similar shared experiences to the author and when he (Tariq Mehmood) wrote his first novel ‘Hand on the sun’ that also had a romantic twist in it. So, once again, love featured here in this novel as well and this time two relationships one with a lower caste woman (Yasmin) back in Saleem’s village in Pakistan and in England Saleem fall for Carol Anderson, the daughter of his boss. Both women are committed to him but Saleem ‘is committed to the cause’ and not personal and family ties or needs which both of his love interests reflect.

      Spoiler alert:

      Half way through the story, the metaphoric build up takes Saleem Khan back to Pakistan during the late 1980s…during the final years of General Zia’s rule and his sudden death in a mysterious Pakistan military plane crash over Bahawalpur in August 1988. The story line builds up to the carnage of the real-life Ohjri munitions dump disaster in Rawalpindi in April 1988 and his fictitious involvement with a group of US backed Mujhadeen in a fight with a camp of soviet soldiers in the Afghan mountains. Here Saleem is clearly unprepared for this precariously dangerous situation which could have easily got him and his cousin Habib killed.The stage is then set, as the jigsaw pieces of the novel come together and the essence of the book title that is encapsulated by: “Song of Gulzarina” – a sort of ‘beautiful mysterious character’ that opens up some of the pre-conceived notions of not just wars, airstrikes and landmines. But it is really about actual humanity and profound sense of spirituality and the precursor of his (Saleem’s) redemption after suffering from many tragedies including loss of his cousin Habib, Yasmin, Carol, Gulzarina’s son Habib Junior and the partial estrangement from his daughter Aisha and Saleem’s ultimate revenge through a planned suicide.
      Whilst back in England, Carol Anderson, who is fully aware, of the role of the ‘goree’ mistress she finds herself playing. At page 56: Carol confronts Saleem and lays into him:

      “…so you think I wouldn’t understand, eh? So you think your white bit doesn’t understand you lot, eh… and marry your village virgins, isn’t that it?…”

      The novel also brings out the issue of alcoholism and love and death as part of the narrative and the usual tragedies associated with it.
      The third woman in Saleem’s life is his daughter Aisha and who suffers from racial and Islamaphobic abuse from white men in a passing car and the Muslim youth outside the mosque book stall is stood there and virtually without batting an eyelid – Saleem lays into them: “How can you just carry on selling books? I ask the bearded youth, pointing a shaking finger, you ‘saw what they did to your sisters’. The youth replies: ‘all will be taken care of in the hereafter ‘- view which ignores traditional Islamic belief (which highlights the importance of balance of both – this world – Duniya, earthly matters and deny spiritual matters focussing on the next life and instead of helping his Muslim sister; uses fundamentalist religious rhetoric to do nothing is pivotal moment in the book for me personally.

      The story line in the novel keeps us in suspense as Saleem Khan wanders around Longsight/Rusholme Wilmslow Road areas in the state to activate the mobile phone at any moment. There are no prizes for guessing on who is visiting Manchester and addressing a Labour party meeting at the G.Mex centre – the architect of the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and in this final ending in the book shows the woman character confronts the architect of the invasion and whose son fought in Iraq and came back with loss of his arms. “You sent my son to Iraq on a lie, you bastard! You sent him on lie and he came back like this”. Finally, the woman say: “He’s a murderer and a liar”.

      In the final paragraphs of the book, Saleem remembers the story when he was a child and the snake and ‘he was urgently warned to move away. As he walks, in the present tense, through Rusholme with explosives strapped to his chest, he remembers his mother telling him of how casually he played with a snake. Hence, adults were afraid of such creatures and not adults.
      https://www.amazon.co.uk/Song-Gulzarina-Tariq-Mehmood/dp/0995222355/ref=cm_rdp_product

      March 2, 2017
    • Daraja Press

      5.0 out of 5 stars: A must read
      By Amanda on 1 Mar. 2017

      This is a powerful and moving novel that makes a poetic comment on our time, pointing us to reflect on global dynamics and how these relate to our own lives.
      https://www.amazon.co.uk/Song-Gulzarina-Tariq-Mehmood/dp/0995222355/ref=cm_rdp_product

      March 2, 2017
    • Daraja Press

      by Helen Goodway

      “TARIQ Mehmood’s novel The Song of Gulzarina is multi-layered and beautifully written, covering the period from 1940 to 2006 to the present and is set in Pakistan, Afghanistan and England…. Tariq Mehmood is a master of conjuring up pictures and atmospheres in words. The plenitude and veracity of the detail, be it in the ancestral village, migrant workers’ lodgings in Bradford, the mill, the claustrophobic office of cousin Habib’s Goods Forwarding Agency in Rawalpindi, the Tora Bora caves of Afghanistan, the streets of Manchester. It’s all there and we are there with Saleem. The culmination of the novel includes reconciliations with Carol, Saleem’s great love, and with Aisha, his beloved but conflicted daughter. But there’s a sting in the tail.”
      http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/lifestyle/taleisurebook/15365394.Themes_of_migration_and_radicalisation_under_discussion_at_Bradford_Literature_Festival/?ref=erec

      July 3, 2017
    • Daraja Press

      Changiz M. Varzi Fighting warplanes with words
      Tariq Mehmood′s latest novel ″Song of Gulzarina″ is an arresting tale of love, loss and longing set against the backdrop of a never-ending war. In interview with Changiz M. Varzi, the award-winning author addresses issues of identity and how racism and Islamophobia can leave an indelible mark.

      July 24, 2017
    • Daraja Press

      Green Left Weekly: Song of Gulzarina, by British-Pakistani filmmaker and author Tariq Mehmood, stands out as a unique piece of literature that intertwines personal issues such as migration, identity crisis and romance, with the impact of racism, Islamophobia and Western imperialism in the Middle East.

      July 24, 2017
    • Daraja Press

      Song of Gulzarina is an engrossing, impassioned and thought-provoking novel touching on some central themes of our times. I think it is Tariq Mehmood’s finest work to date and I thoroughly recommend it.
      Esme Choonara in Socialist Review

      February 9, 2018

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