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Salt and Saffron

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  1,606 ratings  ·  157 reviews
A beautiful novel detailing the life and loves of a Pakistani girl living in the U.S.

Aliya may not have inherited her family's patrician looks, but she is as much a prey to the legends of her family that stretch back to the days of Timur Lang. Aristocratic and eccentric-the clan has plenty of stories to tell, and secrets to hide.
Like salt and saffron, which both flavor fo
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 15th 2002 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2000)
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The very first Kamila Shamsie book I read was Home Fire,easily her best. It left me with a rather inflated opinion of her capabilities,as a writer. So,I bought three of her previous books in one go. I was in for a fair bit of disappointment.

Salt and Saffron is very mediocre,slow moving Pakistani chic lit. Shamsie delves into familiar subjects,partition,family politics,love affairs and life in Karachi.

The love affair,this time is between one of her female relatives,and the cook. In the process,s
Sadiq. PhD
Oct 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
First of all, although the writer is from Pakistan, she does not have any knowledge of Urdu(besides some common names) and has no idea about the real culture of Pakistan and subcontinent(maybe because she is English speaking Pakistani-American elite class here (BTW, I call them "the bastards of Pakistan").
I didn't like it so I didn't finish it. Kamila Shamsie is that kind of writer and part of Pakistani elite class(they might be 2 % of the total population)who get their early education in missi
Anum S.
Despite my fascination with all family history, I really wasn’t interested in 1947 at that particular instant. But I couldn’t very well tell Meher Dadi that; not with what Partition had meant to her generation.

I try to imagine how it would be if I lived through times of extreme social upheaval, through periods that are so abrupt and brutal that they leave a mark – think of a world war, the partition of a country, the creation of a new one. I try to imagine if this happened in my here and now, on
Lara Zuberi
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Having read five of her six novels, I must say that Kamila Shamsie has set her place in my mind as one of the most powerful contemporary voices of South Asian literature, and literary fiction in general.
Salt and Saffron is a novel with a very interesting story, weaved across three generations of the Dard-e-dil family with a royal background in the years preceding partition. Shamsie has taken up a rather difficult task of covering different generations, the protagonist Aaliya's, her parents, and
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
I still think she is over-rated
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
The plot of this book is something along the lines of a girl named Aliya becoming interested in Khaleel, a boy who's not from the same social class which forces her to reconsider her entire family history. This of course is complicated by the author's attempt in order to incorporate actual history (Mughal as well as Partition era) into the story, which adds nothing to it except confusion as well as her concept of "not-quite twins" which was interesting but unrelated to Aliya-Khaleel.

Nov 06, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to Susan by: Misha Ali
I enjoyed this book and am struck by the feeling that I know this person and the milieu - of course I don't - her being Paki and it being set in Karachi..and me from arch enemy India..really? The flavour of the book is so much of the North India that I grew up in that I am positively nostalgic. I love a book that bashes prejudices..but of course, no upper class family from the subcontinent would countenance one of its own running away with the khansama maharaj/cook.

Did Misha recommend this book
Ramya (Idea Smith)
Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Aaliya is a global citizen of Pakistani origin. But a flirtatious conversation with a stranger on the plane sets her thinking about her roots and the people and stories that have led to her.

The Dard-e-dils, Aaliya's family, trace their roots back to the Mughal era, through British occupation, down to the Partition that broke hearts & families and finally their current day status as Karachian elite. Aaliya skips between past and present as she grapples with the mysterious loss of a beloved cousi
Aug 11, 2009 rated it did not like it
It's another book affirming the strong impact of families over generations--this time a Pakistani family. Given current news of increasing tensions (again) between Pakistan & India, it should have had heightened interest (especially as it deals with those historical tensions' effects on this family), but the prose was too cutesy, it didn't very successfully challenge the class divisions it purported to, & was mostly just plain boring. ...more
Sobia Nawab
Dec 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
Kamila is a talented novelist, but did not see that reflect in this book at all. Repeated exaggerated unnecessary information. Towards the end it was just unashamedly predictable and beyond disappointing!
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
this book warms my heart...what a way with words the author has...
Dec 28, 2013 marked it as to-read
Very difficult to follow and get into. Not my cup of tea. Wouldnt bother.
Aug 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spectacular
I keep changing my mind about books. My opinions are not only subjective, they're also contextual.
This one probably has to do with my disdain for glorifying the likes of Timur the lame.
History and historians are insensibly and insufferably dull and boring. Even KS can't change my mind with attaching all this thrill and intrigue with historical investigation. It may take the entire X-Men cast parroting historical facts to me to make them interesting. Aliya may not have taken up historical study
Sana - Literati Psyche
"Saffron is a luxury, but salt is a necessity, Aliya learns in this charming, witty exploration of class values." - Library Journal

"The utterly sensuous descriptions of food and tea are alone worth the price of admission." - Booklist

This is my first book that I've read by Kamila Shamsie. Salt and Saffron is a beautiful, interesting, and very well-written novel. I am eager to read Shamsie's other books.

*All I can remember is the names of mouth watering food* :D

The story revolves around Aliya;
Jessica Haider
May 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
The novel begins as Aliya is on a London-bound airplane after graduating from college in Massachusetts. Aliya is a young Pakistani woman and is on her way home to Karachi. She is a natural storyteller and spends the flight relaying tales of her family, the Dar-e-Dils, to several of the other passengers. Throughout their history, the Dard-e-Dil family has had sets of `not-quite twins' who bring bad luck or shame to the family. Aliya tells tales of her family and these twins back to the time of th ...more
This is why I make it a point to start reading from an author's most recent publications and then move towards the older ones (if I like the author enough and I like Shamsie). It is set in an aristocratic family but that doesn't mean that it's an unrelatable tale. I see bits of my own family in theirs and I don't imagine it's difficult for others to do so because all families have their set of social scripts deviation from which is punished. All that aside, this isn't a memorable book and Shamsi ...more
Salma Elmo
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Update 1:
It's 5:47 A.M. Trying to convince myself to sleep but my fingers are refusing to close the book so that I can put my head to rest. I am in love with Kamila Shamsie's Salt & Saffron. I am in love with every word she wrote. I am almost highlighting all her quotes. This is my very first encounter with Shamsie, a totally epic win!

Update 2:
It's 20:03. Just uttered the last words from Salt & Saffron. Excellent read. Messages brilliantly hidden yet very well conveyed. Kamila Shamsie has been c
The Dard-e-Dil family saga, the stories and the secrets, told by the young Aliya is the means by which she attempts to find the rhyme and reason of her attraction to the 'wrong' type of guy, a fellow Paksitani unfortunate to have been born on the opposite side of the tracks as herself. Discovering the truth behind the unmentionable, the fate of her starred not-quite-twin will, she believes, lead her to the right choices she needs to make. It sounds just like any other tearjerker love story, but ...more
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Salt and Saffron had a lot of promise. It has an interesting array of characters and history behind it. However, while the characters are (too) many, the story is poorly developed. The central character is Aliya whose relationship with another man is developing, and then there are a bunch of relations who just appear now and then. The author should have developed the characters further or reduced the references to so many of them.
Aranya Iyer
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lovely, rich book! Filled with so much detail and so much life. It was a bit disorienting at times jumping from one train of thought to another, so you had to pay enough attention to really follow through the maze of the story, but it is a book that deserved the attention and one where the attention to detail very much paid off.

Lovely read.
Shivam Kalra
Jul 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever read a book and associated it with a song? I experienced it for the first time with this book.
I generally read in metro while commuting to and from work, with my earphones plugged in. I recently got my hand on the new The Cranberries album Something Else. It includes acoustic versions of old songs and three new songs (again, acoustic). And if you have ever heard of The Cranberries, other than the hit song Zombie, you would know Dolores O' Riordan is a singer who can shout and wake
Aamira Yaseen
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
'How horrifying that morning when you wake up and your first thought is not of the person who has left. That’s when you know, I will never die of a broken heart.'
Aliya is a Pakistani girl living in the U.S. She belongs to a royal family and falls in love sith non-rich guy which makes her reconsider her family history. The family has many stories to tell and secrets to hide.
'Of course you don't marry an individual. You marry a family.'
The book captivates the reader till the very last page.

Sep 29, 2017 rated it liked it
It's been great to go back and read Shamsie's earlier novels after reading Home Fire. I feel very mixed about this - one blurb said it was like a Rushdie/Mitford sister mash-up and I can see that - the narrator is impossibly witty, the family history incredibly intricate, the politics are complex and love wins in the end.

This is a weird, prickly, sometimes funny, sometimes boring novel that ends up being very likable despite itself. For me, Home Fires was one of the best reads of the year and t
Jan 07, 2008 rated it liked it
The joy of good food, the pull of the past and family secrets, the power of caste and class are all interwoven into this story about a young Pakistani woman, newly graduated from an American college, who tries to come to terms with a painful event in her life from four years earlier by following its connections to her family's grand colonial-era and pre-colonial past in India. Another flawed but very much sympathetic character (as well as cast of characters) from Shamsie. ...more
Aug 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
It was a bit difficult to follow (lack of chronology, many unfamiliar names, and a lot of this fictional family's history), but I did enjoy the overall plot and the revelations and epiphanies of the main character. Unfortunately, the end was weak and rushed -- though I wonder if that was intentional -- and I was left with a feeling of slight dissatisfaction. ...more
Feb 19, 2008 rated it liked it
A fun quick read about a Pakistani woman who comes from a royal background and falls in love with a man whose ancestors are from the non wealthy part of the country. Also family secrets come out through different connections on the family tree which are funny.
Feb 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019
Though I can't quite put my finger on why, this story just didn't manage to draw me in as much as the other novels by Kamila Shamsie I've read. Perhaps it's just a case of too many characters, none of whom I felt any attachment to. ...more
Mar 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Bitter sweet, melodramatic but very poetic.
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
A day's read. More like a soap opera. Poor book by Shamsie. ...more
Yasmeen Al-Shehab
So not my favorite Kamila Shamsie book, the ending left a little too much to the imagination and the whole Mughal flavor left me bored!
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Kamila Shamsie was born in 1973 in Karachi, where she grew up. She has a BA in Creative Writing from Hamilton College in Clinton, NY and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. While at the University of Massachusetts she wrote In The City By The Sea , published by Granta Books UK in 1998. This first novel was shortlisted for the John Llewelyn Rhys Award in the UK, and Shamsie rec ...more

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