Immersed in the set imperative of middle-class life in contemporary Pakistan, Mariam Ameen decides to challenge the tradition of being female. Beginning in Lahore, the novel enters its first phase with Mariam struggling to retain the memories of her dead grandfather so engrained within her.
With willful and determined self-assurance, she leaves for America in search of better days, carrying these memories with her. But encounters with strangers in an unfamiliar land leave Mariam confused and vulnerable. In the midst of forging new paths, she learns of the disappearance of her younger brother, Abdullah, in America.
A reverse journeying then begins as she travels backwards to her roots to confront what she once left behind, in order to find the answers she is looking for. Against the backdrop of unyielding social institutions threatened by change and independent individuals, Mariam vows that she will not stop looking for her brother.
Ashes, Wine and Dust describes a young woman’s exploration of self-identity through the invisible ropes of social customs, stereotypes and love. As love in all forms is tested in the most strenuous of ways, disappearance in turn, becomes the less chosen road towards a self-discovery.
‘In this debut novel, Kanza Javed weaves a hypnotic generational tale of old and new Pakistan, of new loyalties, half-loyalties and enduring love. Javed s depiction of the love between Mariam and Dadda, her grandfather, is unforgettable. Her portrait of life in a country and culture rapidly changing and changed, along with the promise of forgiveness, healing and hope, show Ashes, Wine and Dust to be the achievement of a remarkable young novelist at the beginning of her stellar career. –Melissa Pritchard, author of Palmerino and A Solemn Pleasure
‘An accomplished debut tender, thoughtful and profound…’ –Prajwal Parajuly, bestselling author of Gurkha s Daughter and Land Where I Flee
‘Kanza Javed weaves a fine tapestry between two worlds, a past that is slipping away and a present that is at once frightening and intense. Yet there is hope. Definitely, one of the exciting new voices from Pakistan.’ –Shrabani Basu, author of the Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan and Victoria & Abdul: The true story of the Queen’s closest confidant