This is pretty interesting for a novel with no continuous plot and no appreciable character development. It was written by an eighty-year-old man who had a long civil service career in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas around the Pakistan/Afghanistan border. This is where the book is set. The chapters are only loosely connected, giving a broad view of the customs, laws, and lifestyles of the numerous tribes occupying the region. Their values and attitudes are so foreign to the Western mind, it's no wonder we have so little success when we try to meddle in their affairs. Jamil Ahmad's writing is quite accomplished in its simplicity. It often has the quality of stories delivered in the oral tradition, but he adds more detail and nuance. The book is short on humor, but I laughed long and hard when a beautiful woman said to an ogling soldier, "You, there, who has been staring at me for a long time. Do you not know that you are smaller than my husband's organ?"