Book Review: In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman

An exile, said Zafar, is a refugee with a library

I read In the Light of What We Know for the bookclub I recently joined. I didn’t like it from the first word. It was not badly written, just slow and not my kind of tea.

Book Review: In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman


Title & Author: In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman
Genre: History, Contemporary
Release Date: March 4 2014
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux


An investment banker approaching forty, his career collapsing and his marriage unraveling, receives a surprise visitor at his West London town house. Confronting the disheveled figure of a South Asian male carrying a backpack, the banker recognizes a long-lost college friend, a mathematics prodigy who disappeared many years earlier under mysterious circumstances. The friend has resurfaced with a confession of unsettling power.

I give In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman two out of five hearts because I did not like it from the start and struggled with every chapter. I had a hard time getting through it.

Every chapter starts with one or more quotes from famous people and books. Most I recognised, but I found them very random and felt like they were added just to fill up space on the page. The same goes for a lot of the footnotes the novel had. Some were actually more than a page long and pulled me away from the story. I don’t mind footnotes when they are useful, like there is one explaining what he means when he writes about a IS group and not the Islamic State, but for me most where useless.

It has been awhile since I finished the novel (September 2017) and I still don’t fully understand what the story was about. It reminded me of The Selection series in the amount of reality-tv feeling it gave me and an history book I am forced to read for school.

Each chapter gave me the feeling or reading a different short story, but they never went anywhere. I still don’t understand why the friend shows up on the bankers doorstep and tells him this very long story, because all I got from it is one short point that involves his semi-girlfriend. And I don’t understand why the man disappeared all those years ago. If this whole novel is based on what happened with the girlfriend, I feel the friend should get a good therapy session because he should move on instead of wasting years of his life.

In the Light of What We Know is a very confusing story about two friends, who catch up with each other. From the blurb on the back of the novel I thought it would be more influenced by the events of 9/11, but is has nothing to do with it.

Let me know what you thought of this book!
If you have any requests for which book I should talk about next, please let me know in the comments down below.

For now, let books enrich your life!


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