“I was captivated by In the Light of What We Know, which I’ve been urging on friends since reading it last summer. A novel that is concerned with friendship, geopolitics, math, and science, it’s talky and intellectual, while also unfolding a riveting drama: a deeply satisfying book.”

Rebecca Mead
The New Yorker
Best Books 2014

 


“spectacular”…“a modern-day Gatsby story and one of the first truly successful fictional reckonings with the financial crisis, as well as a subtle analysis of the British immigrant experience in the current fraught international climate”

Olivia Cole
GQ

 


“A great novel…reminded me of Conrad…the contemplative weave of politics and fiction. This ambitious first novel seems to pack into it everything the author knows…and yet it is never show-offy. The characters’ complicated lives, which are at the foreground of the book, persuasively justify everything.”

Wendy Lesser
The Atlantic

 


“Dazzling in its sweep and depth, Rahman’s debut novel moves seamlessly from Kabul to Oxford to New York to Islamabad. Its Bangladesh-born author — an investment banker turned human rights lawyer — deftly captures the contemporary realities of each setting. Topics touched upon include the global economic collapse, terrorism, exile and immigration, inequality and class, and knowledge as both a political tool and a means of belonging. A magnificent literary feat — and a wholly rewarding read.”

Mary O’Shea
Financial Times
Readers’ Favorite Books 2014

 


“a great work, one of the most extraordinary novels I have ever read.”

Madeleine Thien
New Canadian Media

 


“Among outstanding novels is the impressive debut of Zia Haider Rahman … The meticulous interweaving of Rahman’s fiction necessitates reading both forward and back, and makes us realize: who cares about ‘page­-turners’ when the true pleasure of a work of fiction is its gravitational pull upon us?”

Joyce Carol Oates
Times Literary Supplement
Best Books 2014

 


“Brilliant and heartbreaking, In the Light of What We Know is the first truly great book of the new century.”

Ceridwen Dovey
author of Blood Kin

 


“A stunningly good novel. A pure joy. Lucid, funny, philosophical, and very, very smart … and, I have to tell you, it’s one of my all-time top reads.”

Michael Cathcart
Books and Arts, ABC Radio National

 


“Rahman’s intellectual range is dazzling. His novelistic intelligence is assured … A page-turning literary novel that tackles the big questions of our present crisis unashamedly, with supreme narrative skill. This, as Henry James might say, is the right real thing … In the Light of What We Know is an indispensable book, almost certainly, in fact, a masterpiece.”

Kevin Power
Sunday Business Post, Ireland

 


“Deeply insightful and limitlessly quotable, this is the kind of book every novelist dreams of writing and no first-timer should ever have had the chutzpah to attempt. As Rahman’s own narrator says: ‘nothing in his account was out of place, nothing extraneous.’”

A S H Smyth
The Literary Review

 


“far above what is churned out in the name of literary fiction these days.”

Aditya Sinha
Timeout Delhi

 


“the writing is superb”

Kate Saunders
The Times, UK

 


“sprawling, expansive meditation … Fascinating and truly impressive.”

Elizabeth Buchan
Daily Mail, UK

 


“a plaintive and moving portrait of male friendship and alienation”

Willa Paskin
Slate
Best Books 2014

 


“[A] great story…I was totally intoxicated by this work…Over 600 incredible pages.”

Maarten ‘t Hart
Boekhandel De Kler

 


“… dazzling … In the Light of What We Know is what Henry James called a “large, loose, baggy monster” – but for our century”

Philip French
The Observer, UK
Best Books 2014 

 


“brilliantly articulated with an acerbic irony and bursting literary allusiveness”

Jonathan Benthall
Times Literary Supplement
Best Books 2014

 


“… dazzling … the writing shimmers.”

Mark Katkov
NPR
Great Reads 2014

 


“Remarkable…a 21st century novel written with the ambition of scope of a 19th century novel, and bearing the seriousness of purpose of a 20th century one.”

Rebecca Mead
Barnes & Noble Review
Words of the Year 2014

 


“In the Light of What We Know is like that: full to bursting with ideas and bound together with a precocious literary skill…It’s a splendid read.”

Simon Wilson
Metro Magazine, New Zealand

 


“renewed evidence that some of the most interesting writing in English is coming from the edges of old empires”

Kirkus
Best Fiction 2014 

 


“if you only read one book for the holidays, you should read this one…a masterpiece…sad, elegant, uplifting, restless and deep.”

Robert Harington
Society of Scholarly Publishing
Best Books 2014

 


“Rahman’s attentiveness to the social implications of knowing things is a constant source of pleasure … [It] is, among many other things, a beautiful, anguished tirade against narrowness and complacency.”

Edmund Gordon
Times Literary Supplement

 


“…the year’s most interesting first novel, gobbling up ideas and talking points … with the avidity of a combine harvester.”

Tim Martin
Daily Telegraph, UK
Best fiction 2014

 


“fizzes and burns like potassium dropped into water”

Jonathan Ruppin
Foyles
Best Books 2014

 


“impressed and nourished … a masterly and expansive novel”

Charles Boardman
The Guardian
Readers’ Books of the Year 2014

 


“a long overdue reminder of how fiction can convey essential truths about the human condition”

Mini Kapoor
Open Magazine
Favorite Books 2014

 


“…an astonishing novel – sad, angry and beautifully told”

Alex Preston
The Observer, UK
Best Books 2014

 


“a hugely accomplished first novel…I was stunned by its brilliance and range”

Kate Lathem
The Guardian
Readers’ Books of the Year 2014

 


“…quite possibly the best South Asian novel of the last 10 years…If there’s one novel that you should read from 2014, it’s In the Light of What We Know. Prepare to be floored by its vertigo-inducing magnificence.”

J Jagannath
Business Standard

 


“[O]n almost every page there was a passage that intrigued me, and made me think something I hadn’t thought before…Is it ‘the first truly great book of the new century’, as one reader claims on the cover? Well, I can’t think of much competition.”

William Nicholson
Screenwriter, Playwright, Novelist

 


“a novel of rare beauty and power … a hugely ambitious work, which could so easily have gone wrong, but Rahman’s towering imagination, combined with his elegant, almost mathematically precise prose, help him pull it off with enviable ease.”

Anvar Alikhan
Outlook, India

 


“This formidable and compelling novel offers the reader pleasures not often found in the same venue. Its boldness in engaging elements of our contemporary crisis is bracing. In presenting his cast of characters, Rahman supplies close readings of class, mores, and manners that are extraordinary. And throughout, he sustains an almost subliminal resonance with the conventions, strengths, and tone of certain classic social novels in the English canon—Conrad’s in particular. This is a debut to celebrate.”

Norman Rush
author of Mating and Subtle Bodies

 


“[an] outstanding novel that reveals yet more of its brilliance upon each reading”

Mini Kapoor
The Indian Express

 


“The best novel of 2014 is also the best development-related novel.”

William Easterly
Professor of Economics, New York University, and Co-Director of NYU’s Development Research Institute

 


“[an] extraordinary novel”

Ihsan Taylor
The New York Times

 


“One of the clearest descriptions I’ve ever read of the toxic financial instruments that caused the 2008 financial crash”

Nick Higham
BBC TV

 


“a semantic and linguistic Wonderland”

Nadya Chishty-Mujahid
Dawn, Pakistan

 


“[The author] sketches astoundingly lucid pictures of several worlds and many lives. In the Light of What We Know is nothing short of a modern classic and Zia Haider Rahman is the kind of raconteur we all have been waiting for.”

Anees Salim
author of Vanity Bagh

 


“extraordinary … It is no surprise that Rahman’s book is earning rave reviews, gathering much acclaim as it sweeps readers off their feet with its scope and sensibility … It is far away from the colonial narrative of Afghanistan, which makes it a committed political novel if ever there was one.”

Kaveree Bamzai
India Today

 


“Here it is, the vast and brilliant debut novel of our time for which readers have been waiting … [It is] deeply penetrating and profoundly intimate, as if made by a muralist whose heart belongs to the details. In the Light of What We Know is a novel of startling vision … Who’s the true heir to such greats as George Orwell and V.S. Naipaul? It’s Zia Haider Rahman.”

Richard McCann
author of Mother of Sorrows

 


“a ground-breaking work of staggering genius … its capacity to accommodate ideas and arguments matches the best of the big, boisterous Russian novels, without its emotional excesses. It restores, with a confidence rarely seen in a first novelist, the majesty of an art form that best tells the history of man.”

S Prasannarajan
Open Magazine, India

 


“[A] sweeping and brilliant tale … Rahman’s rich and complex debut novel is like [a] great meal … In the Light of What We Know may be the best meal you eat this year. [Rahman’s] insights—whether related to Pakistan-India enmity, Ivy-League attitude or non-governmental organizations’ idealism—were right on target, [his] characters’ experiences plausible and compelling, and [his] grasp of the widely varied subjects in the novel was breathtaking.”

Paul Overby
Pittsburg Post-Gazette

 


“[A] splendidly enterprising debut … highlights the uncertainty and incoherence uniting a world in which, at a moment, markets can crash and occupied countries can plummet into chaos … a trenchant attempt to represent the scope of all that remains unknown and uncontrollable”

Sam Sacks
Wall Street Journal

 


“a quiet, philosophical novel of ideas, a meditation on memory, friendship and trust…Beautifully written”

Kirkus Review, Starred

 


“War can divide friends. But then again, so can peace and all that falls between, the spaces inhabited by this ambitious, elegiac debut novel…”

Huffington Post
Books to Sweep You Off Your Feet 2014

 


“a dizzying voyage that touches on many of the key issues of our time … an extraordinary achievement … the book overflows with sparkling essays on free will, the perception of time, the nature of memory, maps, flags, etymology and the axioms of mathematics … As a meditation on the penalties of exile, the need for roots and the ways in which anger can consume a thoughtful man slighted by prejudice, this is a dazzling debut.”

David Grylls
Sunday Times

 


“The author’s fascination with … the universe of ideas is contagious, and enriches the complex narrative about how we know the reality around us … [T]his ambitious debut novel has considerable depth and scope.”

Library Journal Starred Review

 


“… a literary masterpiece … a magisterial sweep of the landscape of the 21st century that is characterised by war, migration, and rootlessness.”

Lamia Karim
New Age, Bangladesh

 


“This is not a book that romanticizes brokenness, or creates magic out of trauma, or attempts redemption. Rather, it is a book that looks life in the face, not for what we wish it to be, but for what it is, with all its unkempt truths, its unjustifiable decisions, and things left unsaid, unexplained, uncorrected.”

Sadia Khatri
Friday Times, Pakistan

 


“a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship.”

Barnes & Noble
Discover Great New Writers selection

 


“5 stars…a 497-page tour de force”

Ajay Singh
South China Morning Post

 


“epic in scale and reach, and pulsing with life.”

Malcolm Forbes
The National, UAE

 


“This formidable novel unpacks friendship, betrayal, unknowability – and includes an astute take on Englishness, on class, on mathematical theory, human rights, and whether people can trust their own perception of the world.”

Kate Kellaway
The Observer, UK

 


“Both sophisticated and tender, In the Light of What We Know is an intricate account of the audacity of world-making and a eulogy to our steadfast desire to understand and be understood.”

Lucy Van
Readings, Australia

 


“Rahman’s book is a mighty tome extending to nearly 500 pages, and dealing with loss and rediscovery and the limits of our experience and understanding of love, relationships, science and war. His writing is powerful and passionate and the full scope of his ideas takes us on a great journey of discovery.”

Tony Woodcock
Huffington Post

 


“I had steadfastly decided not to be wowed by the praise and approach it with an open mind, but on closing the book, have found my mind open with wonder, and enriched, stimulated and altogether inspired.”

Sajid H. Amit
Dhaka Tribune, Bangladesh

 


“Niet voor niets komt de Onvolledigheidsstelling van de wiskundige Kurt Gödel al vrij vroeg in het boek aan de orde. De stelling lijkt voor Zafar op veel meer dan alleen zijn wiskundige belangstelling invloed gehad te hebben. Met het verhaal van zijn ooit zo trouwe vriend Zafar neemt de naamloze verteller in In het licht van wat wij weten van Zia Haider Rahman de lezer mee naar vele uithoeken van de wereld. Een boek om helemaal in onder te duiken, waarin de persoonlijke verhouding tussen de twee én de complete wereldpolitiek van deze eeuw voorbij komen. Een boek dat in elke boekenkast thuishoort!”

Algemeen Dagblad, Netherlands

 


“Ben er helemaal van in de ban. Magisch!!”

Petra van Dalen
Boekhandel Praamstra

 


“Een debuut dat door het brede spectrum aan verteltechnieken, van emotiobeel tot zakelijk en van essayistisch tot dramatisch, laat zien welk een grandioos speelveld de romanvorm biedt.”

De Gelderlander, Netherlands

 


“floats effortlessly in the history of the present…A majestic debut”

S Prasannarajan
Open Magazine
Editor’s Choice 2014

 


“A philosophical novel with a page-turning contemporary plot embracing the financial crisis of 2008, the rebuilding of Afghanistan, and the depths of love, friendship, and memory. This is an absorbing first novel that will make you think twice about what we know and what we love.”

Aspen Institute
Best Books 2015 

 


“a masterpiece…This is essential reading.”

The New Indian Express

 


“Les fureurs de l’univers se tressent, dans un récit d’une intelligence haletante, avec le sourire qui transforme un visage, les enfants comme «horizon commun d’amour et d’inquiétude »pour un couple, les djinns et les anges, ou encore l’isolement, le déracinement et l’ostracisme : « Un exilé, dit Zafar, est un réfugié avec une bibliothèque.»
Rebondissant sur les études culturelles et post-coloniales, fendant les flots d’une sociologie arti- culant classes sociales et identités ethniques dans le sillage de Stuart Hall, ce roman de formation et de déformation, sensuel et cérébral, politique et lettré, embringue le lecteur jusqu’à l’exaltation.
Chaque chapitre place en exergue des citations envoûtantes. L’une d’entre elles, signée Italo Calvino, résume la réussite de ce chef- d’œuvre : «La littérature doit relever un grand déft et apprendre à nouer ensemble les divers savoirs, les divers codes, pour élaborer une vision du monde plurielle et complexe.»”

Antoine Perraud
La Croix 

 


“… l’ambition et l’intelligence de Rahman montrent déjà la naissance d’un grand talent, assorti d’une haute idée de la littérature.”

Baptiste Liger
L’Express / Lire 

 


“Dans l’accumulation des histoires et des savoirs, se dessine une carte riche et délibérément lacunaire de notre monde, de notre présent : ce temps d’après – après la crise des subprimes, post-post-11-Septembre, ce temps d’avant –, quand tout est pris dans une confusion inquiète, pas encore éclairé par l’effroi d’un attentat en Afghanistan ou ailleurs … Ce qui subsiste du roman, c’est cette joie réconfortante de l’accumulation de microrécits, de savoirs, comme autant de places fortes qui dessinent en creux un autre pont, celui des « vies inconfortables », sur la frontière … Au vu de ce qui nous attend, À la lumière de ce que nous savons se tient aux avant-postes de la littérature mondiale à venir.”

Lise Wajeman
Mediapart

 


“Un roman qui interroge la perception que nous avons des autres et de nous-mêmes, et qui met superbement en éveil notre soif de compréhension du monde.”

Charléne Busalli
Page, Les Livres Par Les Libraires

 


“Retenez ce nom, Zia Haider Rahman, et le titre de son premier roman … encensé à juste titre par le New Yorker – quatre pages signées James Wood … Son érudition est sans limites … Mais l’érudition se double d’une histoire personnelle incroyable … Ce qui lui permet de côtoyer la haute société anglaise et américaine et, à l’instar d’un Fitzgerald, d’en faire une peinture satirique. Amis de la littérature, ne ratez pas ce roman total.”

Oriane Jeancourt Galignani
Transfuge 

 


“Une brillante évocation des enjeux de notre société contemporaine … La littérature, l’Histoire et les mathématiques se rencontrent, et font d’À la lumière de ce que nous savons une somme tout à la fois épique, anthropologique et savante.”

Camille Cloarec
Matricule des Anges

 


“La dernière page tournée, le lecteur n’a qu’une certitude : il vient de découvrir un écrivain majeur (et ce n’est que son premier roman !), et, malgré le plaisir extraordinaire pris tout au long de sa lecture, malgré son extrême limpidité, une très grande partie de ce roman lui a sans doute échappé, tant il est foisonnant et riche. Mais quel bonheur que de se dire qu’on le relira, encore et encore et qu’il sera chaque fois plus fort, chaque fois plus complexe, À la lumière de ce que nous savons ou pensons savoir.”

Christine Marcandier
Diacritik

 


“Dense et exigeant, aussi épique que cérébral, son roman force l’admiration par son ambition.”

Anne Berthod
La Vie

 


“His words, in sudden appearance or touch, have an exploratory power and accuracy combined with an illuminating fluidity.”

Liberté Hebdo (Freedom Weekly)

 


“La barre est haut placée, mais l’intelligence et le talent de Zia Haider Rahman sont à la mesure de ses prétentions, et A la lumière de ce que nous savons est bel et bien un roman — le premier de son auteur — spectaculairement hors du commun, au formidable dessein …
Auscultant l’intimité de l’indi­vidu autant que les phénomènes collectifs, rivé aux pensées hautement digressives de l’éloquent et tourmenté Zafar, esprit tout ensemble spéculatif, sensible, caustique et mélancolique, A la lumière de ce que nous savons, en dépit de quelques inévitables longueurs, possède le magnétisme des oeuvres majeures.”

Nathalie Crom
Télérama

 


“… livre magnifique, qui se lit avec reconnaissance et bonheur, tant l’auteur, dont c’est le premier roman – très autobiographique – y fait preuve de verve, d’intelligence, de rage et d’un humour tout britannique. Grand lecteur, Zia Haider Rahman a placé en exergue de chaque chapitre des citations formidables de ses livres de chevet, Sebald, Calvino, Somerset Maugham, Melville, Thomas Mann, Dante, et beaucoup d’autres, comme autant de petits cailloux blancs pour nous aider à retrouver notre chemin dans la forêt profonde, celle des temps féroces que nous traversons, et qu’il décrit si bien.”

Kathleen Evin
Libération

 


“Explorant les destins parallèles de deux amis dans la quarantaine, le roman est aussi un véritable festin pour l’intelligence. Un livre foisonnant et stimulant qui cherche d’un bout à l’autre à nouer ensemble des savoirs et des codes disparates pour « élaborer une vision du monde plurielle et complexe ». Des débuts littéraires impressionnants…”

Christian Desmeules
Le Devoir, Canada

 


À Luz do que Sabemos é o retrato do mundo pós-11/9 nas suas formas mais evidentes: Iluminismo do sector financeiro, terrorismo, povos expatriados. A imagem de Gödel e Einstein a caminharem no terreno de uma quinta americana é um exemplo do desenraizamento que o livro explora em todos os matizes. De Zafar, o protagonista, Rahman poderá dizer o que Flaubert disse da Bovary.”

Eduardo Pitta
Revista Sábado, Portugal

 


“Coup de coeur de l’année pour le formidable et ambitieux A la lumière de ce que nous savons ”

Guillaume Launay
SensCritique

 


“one of the great novels of our time”

El Correo Gallego, Spain

 


A la luz de lo que sabemos es novela que se desparrama, crece por los bordes, reescribe sus esquinas, arranca y da marcha atrás. El estilo es serio, cuidado, sin afectaciones. Una ambiciosa primera novela de tipo filosófico y de denuncia social, pero a ratos thriller de las corruptelas de guerra y las financieras, que se presta a leer lápiz en mano, pues su extraño ritmo, entre la velocidad de los diálogos y las más pausadas reflexiones sobre temas diversos, nos induce a un estado intermedio entre la meditación, la intriga y el conocimiento.”

Verónica Nieto
Revista de Letras, Spain