"Dazzling. A novel that holds up to scrutiny a world of claustrophobic war zones, virulent social media and cities collapsing upon themselves, and then sets it down again, transformed by the grace of storytelling." – Siddartha Deb, author of The Point of Return
Anita lives in Karachi’s biggest slum. Her mother is a maalish wali, paid to massage the tired bones of rich women. But Anita's life will change forever when she meets her elderly neighbour, a man whose shelves of books promise an escape to a different world.
On the other side of Karachi lives Monty, whose father owns half the city and expects great things of him. But when a beautiful and rebellious girl joins his school, Monty will find his life going in a very different direction.
Sunny's father left India and went to England to give his son the opportunities he never had. Yet Sunny doesn't fit in anywhere. It's only when his charismatic cousin comes back into his life that he realises his life could hold more possibilities than he ever imagined.
These three lives will cross in the desert, a place where life and death walk hand in hand, and where their closely guarded secrets will force them to make a terrible choice.
About the Author
Fatima Bhutto was born in Kabul, Afghanistan and grew up between Syria and Pakistan. She is the author of five previous books of fiction and nonfiction. Her debut novel, The Shadow of the Crescent Moon, was long listed for the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction and the memoir about her father’s life and assassination, Songs of Blood and Sword, was published to acclaim. Her most recent book is The Runaways.
She graduated from Barnard with a degree in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures and has a masters in South Asian Government and politics from SOAS. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @fbhutto.
“As compassionate as it is trenchant, this rare fiction is an illuminating guide through the great disorder of our times.” —Pankaj Mishra
“Fatima Bhutto vividly renders the seductions of Islamic radicalization in such a way that we understand both its historical specificity and its universal roots in idealism and desire, rage and romance, youth and rebellion. Drawn from the headlines but plunging much deeper, The Runaways is a novel for our difficult times.” —Viet Thanh Nguyen
“An astute and searing take on anomie and radicalization.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Stunning … Bhutto’s descriptions trade between stark beauty and restrained horrors, encompassing the damp of a rain-soaked slum, the wonder of self-caging birds, and the pure brightness of moonshine over the desert … Her pages are brutal and surprising, and their revelations stand to unmake and rebuild their audiences.” —Michelle Anne Schingler, Foreword Reviews (Starred Review)
“Dramatic … With poetic writing, Bhutto slowly reveals the characters’ connections as well as some compelling twists, and makes a convincing case that extremism, especially for young people, is driven more by feelings of alienation than religion.” —Kathy Sexton, Booklist
“Told in alternate chapters from the points of view of all three protagonists, the book moves forward and backward, explaining their motivations in spare, almost jaunty prose that elicits empathy for the troubled teens and stands in stark contrast to the seriousness of the plot. Bhutto’s penetrating character study convinces all the way to the inevitable bloody end. ” —Publishers Weekly
“The Runaways is an extraordinary novel by an author whose attention to detail [and] exceptionally effective narrative storytelling style has created the kind of book that will linger in the mind and memory long after it has been finished.” —Midwest Book Review
“A meticulous psychological study of who turns to radicalism and why … A provocative investigation of courage, and how it can foment either salvation or damnation.” —Anjali Enjeti, Minneapolis Star Tribune