19 April, 2021

Misfits Before Mosul

Three damaged youths are seduced by a jehadi future, and reflect upon a cold desert

Misfits Before Mosul

As Monty and Sunny, two of the three main characters in The Runaways, wait endles­sly in the middle of the blistering Iraqi desert after days of a long march, a sense of uncertainty grips the two young jehadi recruits. “This whole exercise felt like a waste. What were they doing? No one from the Ummah Movement had bothered to check on them, no one debriefed them, no one even seemed to know they were out here.”

It is this bumpy journey towards radicalism that Fatima Bhutto attempts to explore in her new novel, through the intersecting lives of Sunny aka Salman Jamil, son of a Lucknowi immigrant in Britain, Monty (aka Mustafa), the scion of an affluent Pakistani family who is une­namoured by his legacy, and Anita Rose, the Christian girl from a Karachi slum who wants to soar high above the shackles of her gender, religion and poverty.

Along the way, Bhutto tackles the millennial insecurities of the Muslim youth, primarily through Sunny, the lonely boy growing up in Portsmouth. Embarrassed by his father's attempts to blend in with the...

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