Faiqa Mansab‘s short stories and an excerpt from her novel were published in The Missing Slate in 2013. She has been a teacher and school administrator for ten years. She has also published in academic journals, and newspapers. Faiqa conducts creative writing workshops when she is not working on a novel. This House of Clay and Water is Faiqa’s debut novel and she is currently working on her second one.
Set in Lahore, This House of Clay and Water explores the lives of two women. Nida, intelligent and lonely, has married into an affluent political family and is desperately searching for some meaning in her existence; and impulsive, lovely Sasha, from the ordinary middle-class, whose longing for designer labels and upmarket places is so frantic that she willingly consorts with rich men who can provide them. Nida and Sasha meet at the famous Daata Sahib dargah and connect—their need to understand why their worlds feel so alien and empty, bringing them together.
On her frequent visits to the dargah, Nida meets the gentle, flute-playing hijra Bhanggi, who sits under a bargadh tree and yearns for acceptance and affection, but is invariably shunned. A friendship—fragile, tentative and tender—develops between the two, both exiles within their own lives; but it flies in the face of all convention and cannot be allowed.
Faiqa Mansab’s accomplished and dazzling debut novel explores the themes of love, betrayal and loss in the complex, changing world of today’s Pakistan.