Completing an epic panorama that began in fifteenth-century Moorish Spain, *Night of the Golden Butterfly* moves between the cities of the twenty- first century, from Lahore to London, from Paris to Beijing. The narrator is rung one morning and reminded that he owes a debt of honor. The creditor is Mohammed Aflatun—known as Plato—an irascible but gifted painter living in a Pakistan where “human dignity has become a wreckage.” Plato, who once specialized in stepping back into the limelight, now wants his life story written.
As the tale unravels we meet Plato’s London friend Alice Stepford, now a leading music critic in New York; Mrs. “Naughty” Latif, the Islamabad housewife whose fondness for generals forces her to flee to the salons of intellectually fashionable Paris; and there’s Jindie, the Golden Butterfly of the title, the narrator’s first love. Interwoven with this chronicle of contemporary life is the turbulent history of Jindie’s family. Her great forebear, Dù Wénxiù, led a Muslim rebellion in Yunnan in the nineteenth century and ruled the region for almost a decade, as Sultan Suleiman. *Night of the Golden Butterfly* reveals Ali in full flight, at once imaginative and intelligent, satirical and stimulating.