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Scatter shot decade

books Updated: Sep 09, 2011 22:15 IST

Hindustan Times
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Ten Years Later
Granta/Penguin India
Rs 699
pp 256
A ten-year period can be a necessary pit stop to examine something as cataclysmic as 9/11. But with something that didn't start on September 11, 2001 with the attack on America and didn't stop on May 2, 2011 with the death of Osama bin Laden, '9/11' is no single-plot narrative. The new Granta anthology tries to offer the reader a gift-wrapped unruly bouquet.

Tahar Ben Jelloun, in 'A Tale of Two Martyrs', sets his dial on two sparks that lit the 'Arab Spring' - the lives and deaths of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi and Egyptian family man Sayed Bilal. Pico Iyer deals with the more familiar story of post-9/11 racial profiling in 'The Terminal Check' and hits a keen spot when he writes: "...the one thing the 9/11 attacks have achieved, for those of us who spend too much time in airports, is to make suspicion universal; fear and discomfort are equal-opportunity employers now." Nadeem Aslam's 'Punnu's Jihad' is a story of an Afghan youngster held captive by a warlord who ends up being the prisoner of war of an American soldier.

The quality of writing here is uneven, some being retellings of familiar stories. But as pitstops go, Granta: Ten Years Later tries its bit to catch the flux and hold it against the light.