No Honour by Awais Khan #BookReview #BlogTour

A young woman defies convention in a small Pakistani village, with devastating results for her and her family. A stunning, immense beautiful novel about courage, family and the meaning of love, when everything seems lost…

In sixteen-year-old Abida’s small Pakistani village, there are age-old rules to live by, and her family’s honour to protect. And, yet, her spirit is defiant and she yearns to make a home with the man she loves.
When the unthinkable happens, Abida faces the same fate as other young girls who have chosen unacceptable alliances – certain, public death. Fired by a fierce determination to resist everything she knows to be wrong about the society into which she was born, and aided by her devoted father, Jamil, who puts his own life on the line to help her, she escapes to Lahore and then disappears.
Jamil goes to Lahore in search of Abida – a city where the prejudices that dominate their village take on a new and horrifying form – and father and daughter are caught in a world from which they may never escape.
Moving from the depths of rural Pakistan, riddled with poverty and religious fervour, to the dangerous streets of over-populated Lahore, No Honour is a story of family, of the indomitable spirit of love in its many forms … a story of courage and resilience, when all seems lost, and the inextinguishable fire that lights one young woman’s battle for change.

It's such a pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for No Honour today. Huge thanks to Awais Khan, Orenda Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

I knew No Honour was going to be a stunning book within the first few pages of reading it. The opening chapter, set in a small Pakistani village is unbearably harrowing, particularly because while this might be fiction, it's based on harsh, shameful truth. Pakistan has the highest number of documented and estimated honour killings in the world and it's a practice that continues despite recent legal reforms.
As with any terrible injustice that occurs on a large scale, it's often most effective to focus on individual victims and Awais Khan does that to devastating effect here, first with young mother, Shabnam whose punishment for giving birth outside of marriage is almost too traumatic to read about, and then with the main protagonist of the story, Abida.
It becomes immediately apparent that even putting aside the horror of honour killings, life here is brutally misogynistic, with husbands expected to beat their wives while their daughters are uneducated to keep them subservient, endure forced marriage at a young age and are required to bear sons. Abida knows the risk she is taking, sneaking behind her family's back but she is headstrong and infused with passion for her boyfriend. When the inevitable happens, she narrowly escapes the same fate as the tragic Shabnam and countless other village girls. Her mother's reaction to her sentencing and punishment is undeniably shocking and yet also starkly realistic. She understands what it would mean for the rest of the family if they attempt to oppose the decree of the village's powerful Pir. However, her father, Jamil was himself raised by an independent, strong woman and so it is he who eventually helps her to flee to Lahore. 
The chapters alternate between Abida and Jamil as her new life in Lahore quickly turns sour and she learns that moving to the city is no protection against the basest desires of powerful men and the women who aid them. This is not an easy book to read; her story is a graphic account of the violence and oppression that women like Abida are subjected to. It's a fearful, lonely life and her wretched existence is painful to comprehend. Nevertheless, even as it becomes clear that she is little more than a possession to be bought, sold and abused, her indomitable spirit somehow endures and as much as she is a victim, she is also a survivor.
Meanwhile, the subjugated, weak Jamil rediscovers the lessons he learned from his mother as he realises that love matters more than supposed honour. His courage might not come at the hands of savage abusers but is no less impassioned or moving as he desperately searches for his beloved first-born child and tries to secure her freedom from the clutches of a dangerous, depraved tyrant.
Awais Khan's intensely evocative descriptions are redolent with the sights and smells of the country; from the protective barbarity of the remote village to the institutional corruption of the drug-ravaged Lahore, he brings Pakistan vividly and uncompromisingly to life. It takes real courage to write so honestly and movingly about the darkest, most reprehensible aspects of your country, particularly as there are still many in this patriarchal community who object to the condemnation of what is seen as a cultural necessity. 
Amidst the unvarnished depiction of heinous atrocities and the righteous anger, there is some hope too and recognition that although more progress is needed, both women and men are able to fight for and exert very real change in the way young women are treated in Pakistan. At a time when violence towards women is perhaps under the spotlight more than ever, No Honour is an outstanding, profoundly moving novel; compassionate, immersive and unflinching, it is a highly relevant, important exploration of the entrenched cultural disgrace of honour killings. I cannot recommend it highly enough.  

No Honour is published by Orenda Books, it is out now in ebook and will be available in paperback from 19th August 2021. It can be purchased or pre-ordered from the publisher's website,, Hive, Waterstones, Kobo and Amazon but please consider supporting independent bookshops whenever possible.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
Awais Khan is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and Durham University. He has studied creative writing with Faber Academy. His debut novel, In the Company of Strangers, was published to much critical acclaim and he regularly appears on TV and Radio. Awais also teaches a popular online creative writing course to aspiring writers around the world. He is currently working on his third book. When not working, he has his nose buried in a book. He lives in Lahore.


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