Other Names for Love
A charged, hypnotic debut novel about a boy’s life-changing summer in rural Pakistan: a story of fathers, sons, and the consequences of desire.
At age sixteen, Fahad hopes to spend the summer with his mother in London. His father, Rafik, has other plans: hauling his son to Abad, the family’s feudal estate in upcountry Pakistan. Rafik wants to toughen up his sensitive boy, to teach him about power, duty, family—to make him a man. He enlists Ali, a local teenager, in this project, hoping his presence will prove instructive.
Instead, over the course of one hot, indolent season, attraction blooms between the two boys, and Fahad finds himself seduced by the wildness of the land and its inhabitants: the people, who revere and revile his father in turn; cousin Mousey, who lives alone with a man he calls his manager; and most of all, Ali, who threatens to unearth all that is hidden.
Decades later, Fahad is living abroad when he receives a call from his mother summoning him home. His return will force him to face the past. Taymour Soomro’s Other Names for Love is a tale of masculinity, inheritance, and desire set against the backdrop of a country’s troubled history, told with uncommon urgency and beauty.
Shortlisted for the McKitterick Prize
A Malala Book Club Pick
“This haunted, haunting novel is about the cruelties we commit in our search for freedom and the bonds from which we can never be free. Taymour Soomro’s piercing insight is that both the freedom and the bonds are constituent of love.” — Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness and What Belongs to You
“An exceptional novel about fathers and sons, desire and love, and the long reach of the past. It’s a relief to encounter writing this beautifully wrought, to enter a world this meticulously realised, and to read a novel so bold, so committed.” — Sunjeev Sahota, author of The Year of the Runaways and China Room
“A twenty-first century variation of Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons, Other Names for Love explores the age-old dilemma faced by all those whose childhood is defined, and whose future is decreed, by tradition: how to carve a space for one’s innermost self, how to love without turning oneself into love’s sacrifice, how to be courageous without losing one’s tenderness. A keen-eyed observer and a sensitive storyteller, Taymour Soomro is a thrilling new addition to international literature.” —Yiyun Li, author of Where Reasons End and Must I Go
“A powerful, moving novel and an impressive debut. Soomro writes with both urgency and care.”—Mohsin Hamid, author of Exit West and The Reluctant Fundamentalist
“Such a deftly told and evocative story of duty, masculinity and desire.”—Kamila Shamsie, author of Home Fires
“Spell-binding, like a song overheard in the night, one you follow like a map to the singer. Reading it, Other Names For Love feels both new and ancient, a transnational patriarchal puzzle made from legacies embraced and defied, and the love lost and found within. A masterful debut.”—Alex Chee, author of Edinburgh and How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
“Taymour Soomro’s debut is an elegant and affecting story about love—paternal, filial, romantic, even patriotic. Other Names for Love probes the mystery of who we are by looking at the places (our homelands and wherever we flee to) and people (our parents and lovers) that forge us.”—Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind
“A beautiful novel on the desire to leave and the hope to remain, the need to find oneself among one’s people and away from them, and it is all stitched together with finely strung sentences, careful and taut and precise, as though the whole thing and what it describes is in constant danger of unravelling.”— Hisham Matar, author of In the Country of Men and The Return