Carefully planned marriages are a long tradition in Pakistan, as they are throughout the Middle East, where women have little social status and fewer individual rights and much of their value is measured by how good a marriage can be arranged for them.
Sadika must be married off first because she is the eldest of three daughters. It would be a disgrace--an indelible stigma--if a younger daughter was married first. The enormous tension that accompanies this ancient ritual makes Sadika's Way at once a very funny and instructive work of fiction: we watch as mothers vie with each other on their daughters' behalf for the affections of the most eligible males.
We see them in their homes and listen to their conversations as they boast to each other about their daughters' qualities--real and imagined. The infighting gets intense, even downright nasty, all fed by the desperation that grows quite naturally out of a system that literally holds the fate of women in its hands.
Sadika's coming of age and final journey to a new life involve culture clashes and family characters worthy of a modern Middle Eastern Jane Austen. This is a social comedy with serious undertones and a rare novel of manners which spans the world in both time and space.
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