Immersed in the set imperative of middle-class life in contemporary Pakistan, Mariam Ameen decides to challenge the tradition of being female. Beginning in Lahore, the novel enters its first phase with Mariam struggling to retain the memories of her dead grandfather so engrained within her. With willful and determined self-assurance, she leaves for America in search of better days, carrying these memories with her. But encounters with strangers in an unfamiliar land leave Mariam confused and vulnerable. In the midst of forging new paths, she learns of the disappearance of her younger brother, Abdullah, in America. A reverse journeying then begins as she travels backwards to her roots to confront what she once left behind, in order to find the answers she is looking for. Against the backdrop of unyielding social institutions threatened by constant change, Mariam vows that she will not stop looking for her brother. Ashes, Wine and Dust describes a young woman’s exploration of self-identity through the invisible ropes of social customs, stereotypes and love. As love in all forms is tested in the most strenuous of ways, disappearance in turn, becomes the less chosen road towards a self discovery.
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