Book Review: Hell! No Saints in Paradise by A.K. Asif

Hell! No Saints in Paradise by A.K. Asif is both a piercing parody and a metaphor that takes urban fiction to giddy heights.

2050, New York. Ismael, a Pakistani-American student, enters into a pact with mystical beings. They guide him on a dangerous excursion of self-discovery.

A non-believer, Ismael must return to Pakistan. The country is in the grasp of a ruthless fundamentalist régime. He has to gain the trust of his separated dad, a conspicuous radical in the Caliphate. To achieve this, he must pretense as a true believer. Will he endure long enough to penetrate his father's innermost altar? Can he complete his assignment?

The Islamic character has taken on a particular importance in the collective consciousness. Many literary sources, documentaries, and traditions have intertwined especially in the last decades. They give us triumphal or dramatic representations of public opinion.

It is from this limit that Asif's work shines with its own light on a wider horizon. He abandons the safe roads of historiography and documentation. The only aim is to tell the story of a boy in the quest to change the radical character of a place.

The author highlights a story from the point of view of Muslims. He interprets events in the context of the Islamic world. This work thus tries to put new eyes on a saturated issue of publications and does it well.

Asif releases a wealth of material that overrides the very conception of "holy war". Ismael attempts to become an interpretive bridge loaded with new perspectives. All this in a space-time analysis completely opposed to his father. Their perception of the Islamic world does not follow the same patterns and the same time bands.

The Islamic world painted by Asif requires geographical and chronological limits other than those drawn from the traditional perspective. And so we find ourselves in a dynamic analysis of a State and the Islamic society of a future. The distant and exotic descriptions emphasize an era that intrigues and entertain.

The sliding prose leads us to the roots of an Islamic world with lively and contradictory relationships to a sort of deconstruction of the myth of the religious component. The analysis offered has very few saints and heroes, but many smart politicians.

In this book, we can read the real vision of Ismael. He has to act to avoid a clash between specific realities pursuing ground and land interests. All this without ever interrupting profound socio-cultural relations. Asif does not fail to evoke it every so often.

So, in the game of great interests, Asif also gives space to the life of small communities that disappear from collective memory. This work, without any pretense of exhaustion, can be the first step towards a new course of study.

The book offers the reader an arduous and fascinating search path, extending with considerable expertise one of the abysmal themes of mystical reflection.

Hell! No Saints in Paradise by A.K. Asif
Kalyan Panja