The Obscure Logic of the Heart is a modern day Romeo and Juliet: two star-crossed lovers who were not supposed to fall for each other. She is a British muslim of Pakistan decent, he a Kenian Sikh; she is the child of honest hardworking parents, he is a rich boy; she is a lawyer who works for the homeless and displaced in Sudan worrying about illegal weapon traffic, he is an architect who has his father finance his designs – not knowing or not wanting to know he transports illegal weapons. He falls head over heels in love with her, she follows at a more sedate pace. His best friend does not believe in a mutual future for Anil and Lina, her parents want only one type of a husband for their daughters, the proper muslim one. Anil and Lina have to face problems, they separate, re-unite, separate again, re-unite. Unto their story Basil has added an old love affair of Lina’s father: the letters his ex-lover wrote upon being deserted by him.
Basis has chosen to emphasize the differences between Anil and Lina in more than one way. She could have restricted herself to the religious issue, which in itself would be momentous enough. Through Lina Basil also confronts us with the harsh world of refugees and illegal weapon trafficking. The chapters in which Basil describes lifes in a refugee camp or has one of Lina’s colleguees talking about governments not wanting to act against people dealing in illegal arms are just not that well written. However well-meant Basil’s message, she is pushing it too hard. By allowing that much time and attention for these global problems, she loses focus on the love story between Anil and Lina. I realized that Basil writes about the two lovers fighting, she never has them talking seriously and quietly about their future, about ways of overcoming the differences between them. They are a given, not a couple maturing into their relationship. Shakespeare created two lifelike characters in his Romeo and Juliet, Anil and Lina never cease being cliches of young star-crossed lovers. The ex-lovers’ letters make the far better case for the pain being caused by having to chose between love or religion. They are personal and beautifully written, they pinpoint the difficulty of having two live in two culturally divided worlds.
Basil tried to combine two stories in her novel, but failed unfortunately. I feel that she could have written a beautiful novel about two young lovers or an accusing one on the subject of refugees and illegal arms. By focusing she could have made either one work.