What I am reading: Iqbal: a novel

My supervising lecturer let me borrow several novels to read which she thought might give me some ideas and insights about writing a novel set in a troubled country. The first of these was set in Pakistan.

Iqbal: a novel written by Francesco D’Adamo is based on the real life story of Iqbal Masih. Iqbal was sold into slavery at an early age, along with many other young children. They were put to work in appalling conditions in factories. This story follows the experiences of a hardworking group of children in a carpet factory. Iqbal inspires the other children to believe that they can be free of their slavery one day, despite the harshness and cunning of their master.

I found this book to be both inspiring and disturbing. It is disturbing because it is based on a true story. It is a fictionalized account of what actually happened. Child abuse and slavery continues today in many countries. I also found it inspiring to think that totally disempowered children can still be taught to dream – and then act upon their dreams.

While this story has no direct bearing on what I will be writing about in my thesis novel, it was still a valuable piece of background reading. My protagonist, a twelve year old boy caught in the civil war in Nepal, must dare to dream of a country where freedom and peace exist, despite the evidence of conflict all around. I need to let him dream of that place. Then I will need to engineer the plot to allow that to happen.


D’Adamo, Francesco, 2001: Iqbal: a novel. Aladdin Paperbacks, New York.


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