Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn, by Usman Malik

The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn is the second story I've read this year from the Nebula Award nominees, linked from my favorite site, Free SF Online.  The story is set in modern times, where an American muslim with Pakistani roots is trying to understand his past through the stories of his grandfather.  Gramps tells him the story of a Mughal princess, now poor after being deposed and split from India.  She ran a tea stall protected by a fearsome Jinn, and kept a secret.  Our protagonist pursues that secret back to Pakistan.

The imagery in this story is the strongest point--there are fascinating descriptions of Turkish calligraphy and weaving.  The story is also interestingly self-conscious.  The protagonist is an academic.  One presumes his field is Islamic studies, but it's hard to really say.  In any case he is following his grandfather's scholarship and comes across descriptions of Jinn as keepers of a certain reality--not so much as personal demigods.  He says to his girlfriend "this could be a major reimagining of what Jinn mean"--and this itself is a very different description of what Jinn are.

The story has several layers, twists and turns, and really keeps one's attention.  It's a brilliantly written navigation of Islamic heritage--these have turned up more often in recent years but still are not too common.  I give it a good 3 stars.  Enjoy.

No comments:

Post a Comment