Other Names for Love, Taymour Soomro’s debut novel, is a poignant and urgent story of the tensions between family, desire, and place. Set in Pakistan, the novel follows sixteen-year-old Fahad, who has been brought to his family’s rural estate to “toughen up.” When, instead, Fahad falls for Ali, he is similarly seduced by the allure of the land and its complexities. Decades later, when he is summoned home by his mother, Fahad is forced to confront his past, and the unanswered questions he had left behind.
The Center for Fiction was pleased to welcome Soomro in conversation with his editor, Mitzi Angel, for a discussion of Other Names for Love and the importance of telling diverse queer stories.
Other Names for Love
By Taymour Soomro
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
A charged, hypnotic debut novel about a boy’s life-changing summer in rural Pakistan: a story of fathers, sons, and the consequences of desire.
At age sixteen, Fahad hopes to spend the summer with his mother in London. His father, Rafik, has other plans: hauling his son to Abad, the family’s rural estate in upcountry, Pakistan. Rafik wants to toughen up his sensitive boy, to teach him about power, duty, family—to make him a man. He enlists Ali, a local teenager, in this project, hoping his presence will prove instructive. Instead, over the course of one hot, indolent season, attraction blooms between the two boys, and Fahad finds himself seduced by the wildness of the land and its inhabitants: the people, who revere and revile his father in turn; cousin Mousey, who lives alone with a man he calls manager; and, most of all, Ali, who threatens to unearth all that is hidden. Decades later, Fahad is living abroad when he receives a call from his mother summoning him home. His return will force him to face the past. Taymour Soomro’s Other Names for Love is a tale of masculinity, inheritance, and desire set against the backdrop of a country’s troubled history, told with uncommon urgency and beauty.
Taymour Soomro is a British Pakistani writer. He studied law at Cambridge University and Stanford Law School. He has worked as a corporate solicitor in London and Milan, a lecturer at a university in Karachi, an agricultural estate manager in rural Sindh and a publicist for a luxury fashion brand in London. His short fiction has appeared in the New Yorker and the Southern Review. He has published a textbook on law with Oxford University Press, has written extensively for the Pakistani news media, and is the co-editor, with Deepa Anappara, of a creative writing handbook on fiction, race and culture.
Photo Credit: Jorge Monedero
Mitzi Angel is president and publisher of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Previously, she was publisher of Faber and Faber in London. The authors she has worked with include Sheila Heti, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Rachel Cusk, Amia Srinivasan, Garth Greenwell, Ben Lerner, Sally Rooney, Yiyun Li, and Siddhartha Mukherjee.