Review: “An Arranged Marriage,” a Short Story by Aliya Anjum

by Jason Varrone

Rating: 1 STAR

Genre: Literary Fiction

Type of Story: Short Story

Summary: This short story is based on true incidents in the lives of four women physicians in the United States. Twenty-three-year-old Reem is married to thirty-one-year-old Iftikhar in an arranged marriage. Arriving in America after marriage, she hopes for a joyous, beautiful life. However, Reem soon discovers that everything about Iftikhar is a lie. Now all alone and coming from a culture where divorce carries great stigma, Reem endures a miserable life as she struggles to make her marriage work. Read the story of her suffering and eventual triumph in the land of opportunity.

Review: I knew when I created Short Fiction Spotlight that I ran the risk of either offending a fellow author with a negative review of their cherished work or hurting their feelings. It is likely that I may accomplish both here. But authors take the chance when submitting a story for review that the review may be disappointing, and that I, as a reader, may not like it or get it. I believe in the integrity of this site and the power of constructive criticism, which is intended to help authors improve. What follows is my objective review.

Aliya Anjum’s “An Arranged Marriage” tells the story from the perspective of Reem, a woman hailing from Pakistan who comes to the United States to marry a  man chosen by her parents. It tells of her struggle to adapt, divorce and the stigma attached to it, and her trying to make something of her wrecked life.

First, there are many punctuation errors and sentence fragments within this short story, and these combine to make the plot confusing. Characters are introduced and foreign terms are used that confuse the story further. There is also a vast amount of pure telling in this story. While it is from the perspective of Reem, the story is told in a laborious fashion, with one fact leading straight to the next. This leads to a lack of empathy for the characters and minimal tension in the story. Tension is what drives stories, and this is a story based on facts and reads as such. Another issue is that separate paragraphs are not used to differentiate who is speaking, making it tough to understand the flow of dialogue. And last, there is minimal story arc here, and the ending is told with no true climax or peak.

I speculate, although I do not know for sure, that most of the issues with “An Arranged Marriage” exist because English is not Aliya’s native language.

I believe there is the making of a story here. I found the description of another culture interesting, and there were times when I did feel the hardship that Reem was experiencing. However, the way the story is written combined with the punctuation issues make it difficult for the story to shine through. My suggestion to Aliya is to take this story down and have it thoroughly edited, perhaps by someone who has worked with writers in this situation. I would be happy to reread the story and revise my review if that were done.

Available at: Amazon

Author Site: Facebook

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One Comment to “Review: “An Arranged Marriage,” a Short Story by Aliya Anjum”

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