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The Scatter Here Is Too Great

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  631 ratings  ·  113 reviews
A vivid and intricate novel-in-stories, The Scatter Here Is Too Great explores the complicated lives of ordinary people whose fates unexpectedly converge after a deadly bomb blast at the Karachi train station: an old communist poet; his wealthy, middle-aged son; a young man caught in an unpleasant, dead-end job; a girl who spins engaging tales to conceal her heartbreak; an ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published August 5th 2014 by Harper (first published November 2013)
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“Just above our terror, the stars painted this story in perfect silver calligraphy. And our souls, too often
abused by ignorance, covered our eyes with mercy.”


Bilal Tanweer, a Pakistani author, has penned a poignant tale of five different characters whose lives are devastated after a sudden bomb blast in Karachi and how terrorism fails to bring the peace that these characters are desperately looking for in a city tormented by violence, defected and biased political agendas and terr
A common thread runs through the many narratives: The quest to make sense of the beloved city through a period of turmoil and turbulence; a place that once was but that no longer is. The personal failures in the lives of its many protagonists are superimposed on the failure of the city to give them peace and provide succour.

As a whole, the book fell short of my expectations. Some portions of the stories make for an interesting read in an otherwise rather lacking-in-depth collection of tales that
Samra Muslim
Literature in Pakistan seems have moved on from its slump period, as recently we see a spate of new and young writers venturing to pen down their newer and untold stories. Bilal Tanweer, author of The Scatter Here is Too Great is a debutant writer, joining the new breed of Pakistani fiction writers who aim to do just that.

Reading the book, which is thankfully just near 200 pages, one does feel that Bilal Tanweer has not really be able to communicate his idea on paper cohesively to an average Jo
In Bilal Tanweer’s debut The Scatter Here Is Too Great, the city of Karachi is a full-fledged character, as vivid and alive as the motley crew of individuals that people it. Like the other complicated and nuanced characters, Tanweer lovingly portrays Karachi in all its beauty and brokenness. Whether it is the litter-strewn beach of Sea View, the inside of a small, dingy café in Cantt Station or the chaotic streets of Empress Market pulsating with the throng of people and vehicles, Tanweer’s desc ...more
Aug 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014-reads
The concept was a little too forced and and I'm tired of the linked-stories-make-a-novel trend. The scatter here was too great, indeed, haha. (Did Tanweer attend an American MFA program?) But anyway I was happy to have been exposed to an up-and-coming Pakistani novelist. The title alone is magnificent.
Anum S.
You see, my son, a city is all about how you look at it...We must learn to see it in many ways, so that when one of the ways of looking hurts us, we can take refuge in another way of looking. You must always love the city.

My best friend thought I’d hate this book, and I can see why. There’s almost no sense of proper time-keeping in the storyline, the jumps between character perspectives make no sense and Bilal Tanweer manages to leave almost every ending vague and unanswered.

That being said, th
Noreen Qayam
I just finished this book and realized that I'm really not a fan of regional literature, especially that filled with the kind of pseudo-intellectualism our local authors infuse in their books. Perhaps this is a great piece of literature but maybe I'm not yet mature enough to appreciate it.
Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The scatter, the fragments and the shards. There are stories and there are trajectories they take. But all seem to have an epicenter - a bomb blast in Pakistan in this brilliant debut of a novel by Bilal Tanweer. A comparatively short but very intense read, Tanweer sketches his characters with a pathos that is in and well as out of the ordinary. This is a style of narration that I have always enjoyed - non linear yet gripping. Leaves you breathless in a different sort of way maybe but it does.
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: south-asian
this is a book for those who live in cities which often bush the boundaries of patience, acceptance and love. one of the number of characters in the book says about karachi - 'we must learn to see it in many ways, so that when one of the ways of looking hurts us, we can take refuge in another way of looking. you must always love the city.'
Dec 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
I read this book wrong. I get a short book, I assume it's meant to be read quickly, gulped down like me trying to eat a cookie before my kid notices me doing so and asks to share. This isn't a book that's meant to be gulped. It's a book meant to be savoured, but I doubt you could find anyone who didn't do like me and read the book up as quickly as possible. You can't not - you read and you read and you read and suddenly you're done and you realise because you've blown through this whole thing be ...more
May 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Intense. A set of loosely connected characters and their stories all come together around a bomb blast in a Karachi station. The stories are more fragments of the characters' lives than full-blown narratives, but together they form a mosaic of a city - gritty and violence-torn, yet filled with a fierce humanity common to so many South Asian cities. Bilal Tanweer creates a new format for a novel - and we discover a new Pakistani voice.
Aayan Mirza
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
'The scatter here is too great' is too bloody great. From start to end, never a dull moment. Loved each and every word.
Jan 30, 2018 added it
Shelves: 2018
very weird in terms of structure, idk how I feel about it. I wrote about it for class and talked about how overtly Freudian everything was and my prof said “I’m friends with the author and I know he doesn’t read Freud” so what’s that about
Oct 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Novel set in Karachi

This is a very impressive book. Bilal Tanweer was born and raised in Karachi… and it shows. The city comes through on every page of the book – the filth, the mass of humanity, the constant traffic jams, the charm of many of its people – and the nastiness of others. You really feel you are there from the garbage strewn beach at Sea View to the throbbing streets of the markets. Hard to believe that this is his first book.

The link in the narrative is a bomb blast at Cantt Statio
Wasio Abbasi
This is a good book with some excellent prose and vivid imagination. It's a collection of short stories, spanning three generations and with various viewpoints. Some are linked with a certain bomb blast at Cantt Station, others linked with characters that we come across in the stories.
Although I strongly admire the way Bilal has described various stories from various point of views, supremely diversified personalities and lifestyles that feel genuinely authentic, the reason I have given it three
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pakistan, kindle, c21st
The Scatter Here is Too Great is a most impressive debut from its Pakistani author, Bilal Tanweer. Innovative in form, and haunting in its theme, this novel held my attention from start to finish.

As you can see from the cover, the central image of the book is a bullet-shattered windscreen:

The hole at the centre throws a sharp clean web around itself and becomes crowded with tiny crystals. That’s a metaphor for my world, this city: broken, beautiful, and born of tremendous violence.

One way to giv
May 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, arc
Affecting collection of a chain of short stories linking a city and its people after a bomb blast. Extremely powerful in its depiction of violence and how it impacts peoples lives. Karachi and its inhabitants are explored, you understand the city's heartbeat and what makes its people tick. Story's delving into family roots, father-son relationships,

Karachi a vibrant city with a pulse where its population desperately seeks calm pre and post bomb blast. Both city and people forever hopeful, eyes
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was ok
There’s some good writing here, and I think I see what the author was trying to achieve with his scattered approach to his narrative, but that very scattered approach made it hard for me to engage with the characters, or indeed find my way into the story. Not really a novel, it’s a series of interconnected short stories or vignettes about a disparate group of characters, a cross-section of Karachi’s inhabitants, all of whom are united in some way by a bomb blast at the bus station. In fact the i ...more
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
Tanveer has proved his title completely..

first as most of the novel/ stories are truly scattered...

and second after the readers get through it completely ...
then their mind becomes an example of "the scatter here is too great"*pointing towards your mind* (completely confused).

third the plot at times shows three scattered blasts in three scattered times and places where as Bilal Tanveer says its just one..(i'm all scattered mentally)
*being a researcher on Karachi, i read it thrice to confirm b
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
I was toying with the idea of writing something for The Scatter when I came across Marbles' review (don't know how to link his profile here). It articulates exactly what I felt and wanted to say. Following is the part I agree with the most:

"As a whole, the book fell short of my expectations. Some portions of the stories make for an interesting read in an otherwise rather lacking-in-depth collection of tales that failed to pique my interest.

The circumstantial similarities between a few characters
Aug 17, 2014 rated it liked it
The boy who learns new swear words, the boyfriend who misses his ex, the girl who is taunted because she sullied her family’s name, the communist grandfather who believes that his former glory will be restored, are just a few among the stories of the book. All the stories are interconnected somewhere, and the loose ends are beautifully tied up at the end.Read full review. ...more
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
"Life is made of stories, fragments of life". I felt the book was made of fragments, hard to connect and follow. Understandably everything was focused around the bombing in the station, yet it was difficult to find their significance to each other. Parts of the story didn't seem to resolve for me.
Dec 26, 2014 rated it it was ok
The writer makes every possible attempt to make his characters seem fragile, oppressed and warred upon by the terrorism and corruption infested reality of everyday Pakistan and though some stories do come close to representing the injustice, mostly they turn out to be flaky and sometimes annoyingly pretentious. A disappointing debut.
Pickle Farmer
Feb 03, 2015 rated it liked it
I liked the stories narrated from the kids' point of view the best. I was confused about how the father (Baba) died, but I suspect it was in there somewhere and I just missed it. I liked the subtlety of the narration, and how we never actually see the moment of the bomb blast (the central event that ties the book together).
Danial Tanvir
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
i liked this book , i read it quikly,
as a matter of fact i met the author,
it has some funny parts and starts off by talking about a guy with introding teeth and about how every one makes fun of him in school and then he beats up i person who says that,
it was quiet funny actually and then the author talks about stuff and there.
Mar 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-review
Just under a 4-star read. An interesting set of interlinked short stories that form a loose snapshot of Karachi - even though I knew they were linked it took me until nearly the end of the book to understand the structure.
Sabeeha Rehman
Aug 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A superb reading. A bomb blast in Karachi at a point where lives converge and scatter, cutting across the landscape and leaving an indelible imprint, like a shattered windshield. Deep, thoughtful, and vivid. Beautifully written. This book was a finalist for the Chautauqua book prize.
Rida Zainab
Dec 04, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Interesting. Can not wait to read this. After all its about my city Karachi . This better be good!
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like Bilal Tanweer's debut novel but the dreary characters and the often monotonous narration made me lose all interest half way through the book.
Momina Masood
Sep 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
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25 likes · 7 comments
“Living in this city, you developed a certain relationship with violence and news of violence: you expected it, dreaded it, and then when it happened, you worked hard to look away from it, because there was nothing you could do about it - not even grieve, because you knew that it would happen again and maybe in a way that was worse than before. Grieving is possible only when you know you have come to an end, when there is nothing more to follow. This city was full of bottled-up grief.” 25 likes
“These stories, I realized, were lost. Nobody was going to know that part of the city but as a place where a bomb went off. The bomb was going to become the story of this city. That's how we lose the city - that's how our knowledge of what the world is is taken away from us - when what we know is blasted into rubble and what is created in its place bears no resemblance to what there was and we are left strangers in a place we knew, in a place we ought to have known.” 16 likes
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