The debut of a major new international literary talent is a rare and heartening event. THE WISH MAKER, the first novel by twenty-four-year-old Ali Sethi, combines classic storytelling instincts, an eye-opening portrait of a suddenly important nation that Americans are intensely curious about, and a remarkable back story. THE WISH MAKER has already been highlighted in USA Today's “Book Buzz” column and foreign rights have been sold in six countries to date. At once a fresh and affecting coming-of-age story, a riveting family saga, and a hip, witty social commentary, Sethi's novel vividly evokes the pungent texture of daily life in his native Pakistan, particularly for women, as well as his country's roiling social and political currents.
The son of prominent Pakistani journalists, Sethi went to Harvard University, where he studied with the novelists Zadie Smith and Amitav Ghosh as well as the critic James Wood. He has written in the Op Ed pages of The New York Times about Pakistan's “slow-motion emergency,” which has led it to the brink of widespread violence and chaos, and more recently about the attack in Lahore on the Sri Lankan cricket team.
In THE WISH MAKER, Sethi tells an intimate yet sweeping tale set mainly in the 1990s – a story of two cousins, a boy and girl, who grow up in the same household, unexpectedly follow very different paths, and reunite after a series of events that have irrevocably changed them and their country. It encompasses Benazir Bhutto, the heady promise of democracy, and the recurring nightmare of military intervention; Bollywood movie stars and American TV shows and the different kinds of forbidden love they inspire.