Category Archives: British Asian

Salem Brownstone: All Along the Watchtowers by John Harris Dunning, art by Nikhil Singh

Salem BrownstoneSalem Brownstone, once the proprietor of the Sit & Spin Laundromat, gets an ominous telegram (on Halloween, naturally) calling him to New Mecco City, Azania to “take immediate possession of his [late father's] house and the contents therein.” His mourning – “[a]fter all these years of wanting to know my father, now it’s too late. I’ve lost him” – is short-lived when he discovers an intruder in the manse …

Before Salem has time to get better acquainted with visiting Cassandra Contortionist, who knew his father, the Shadow Boys descend. Uh-oh. Cassandra passes Salem the “scrying ball” which belonged to Salem’s father, with warnings that he must always keep it safe. Injured during their escape, Salem wakes up surrounded by the many creatures of Dr. Kinoshita’s Circus of Unearthly Delights. As Salem recovers, many strange occurrences happen, not the least of which include evil, dark plans to take over the universe. Salem, of course, holds the key – I mean the ball – to keeping the world in balance.

While the plot follows a rather straightforward good vs. evil narrative, the art is anything but predictable. As revealed in artist Nikhil Singh’s bio notes, the panels were seven years in the drawing with a major move in between for both creators from South Africa to London. From Salem’s single expressively squiggly eyebrow, to the mysterious Lola Q’s eyepatch, to Ed Harm’s stages of mutant transformation, and so much more, Singh’s irreverent, protean imagination is clearly manifested in the myriad tiny, peculiar elements of each panel.

Reading swiftly through will restore your sense of goodness and safety, but you’ll find you need to go back again and again)to make sure you haven’t missed any important details. After all, the fate of the universe lies between these glorious, mercurial pages.

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2010 (United States)

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, ..Young Adult Readers, .Fiction, .Graphic Novel/Manga/Manwha, British, British Asian, South African

The Little Hut of Leaping Fishes by Chiew-Siah Tei

Little Hut of Leaping FishesFor all the power and wealth of the Chai clan, discontent and tragedy haunts its three generations. With the challenges facing China at the turn of the 20th century as the last imperial dynasty crumbles and western colonialism looms, patriarch Master Chai’s once ironclad rule over his household begins to falter.

Born the first grandson, Mingzhi’s life is not necessarily his own to control as the family’s eventual heir. Obedient, hard-working, and honest, Mingzhi realizes early that his family’s extensive involvement in opium production is not an enterprise he supports nor wants to inherit. His path to redemption, as well as escape, is in education as he tenaciously works toward becoming a government official far from the family’s reach. Away from the Chai mansion, he finds reprieve and enlightenment in his eponymous “little hut of leaping fishes.”

In spite of an expansive cast of characters, author Chiew-Siah Tei tends toward simplified archetypes rather than multidimensional individuals. Mingzhi, for example, is the ‘good’ grandson with his laudable successes while his younger half-brother is the ‘bad’ counterpart – deceptive, lazy, and vengeful. Of Master Chai’s sons, one is a debauched opium addict with two wives, while the other is a filial, irreproachable, unmarried nurturer. Of the household’s two wives who belong to Mingzhi’s father, one remains a devoted mother and long-suffering silent wife; the other proves to be a scheming adulterous runaway.

Predictable as many of the characters might be, Tei manages plenty of unexpected plot twists and turns, from brutal rivalries to unexpected friendships to unrequited love. Her deft machinations earned her a 2007 Man Asian Literary Prize longlist nod – no small feat for the Malaysian Chinese, Scottish-domiciled author writing her first novel in English (she’s won multiple prizes for her earlier titles in Chinese). If, by chance, you choose to go audible, the elaborate family saga is engagingly read with breathless animation by Malaysian Australian actor Keith Brockett, whose androgynous voice works especially well here.

Mingzhi reaches manhood in spite of abandonment, repeated betrayals, and even unexpected death – who needs enemies when you have your own family too ready to watch you suffer and fail? Such survival merits Mingzhi another life, as his story continues a vast ocean away in last year’s sequel, The Mouse Deer Kingdom. Further adventures ho! Stay tuned.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2008

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, .Audio, .Fiction, British Asian, Chinese, Malaysian, Southeast Asian

The Savage Fortress (Ash Mistry Chronicles, Book 1) by Sarwat Chadda

Savage FortressWell, I seem to be totally out of order here: so I read The City of Death (Book 2) first because I had a judging deadline, then backpedaled to catch up by sticking this Fortress (Book 1) in the ears (Bruce Mann narrates well enough, although I think Sunil Malhotra would have been the better choice), only to learn that Ash Mistry and the World of Darkness (Book 3) which hit shelves on the other side of the Pond last summer, doesn’t even have a Stateside pub date scheduled yet!

Harrrummmphhh. Talk about literatus interruptus (especially since Book 2 ended with quite the shocker)! And while it’s true that you don’t need Book 1 to enjoy Book 2, obeying the order will make you more enlightened.

Meet Ash Mistry, your average city teen: “All-day gaming sessions. His mates. McDonald’s. These were the best things in life.” He’s been sent to India with his younger sister Lucky for some cultural rediscovery with Uncle Vik and Aunt Anita. While he might not be British enough back home, he’s certainly made to feel like a London oddity on the other side of the world. Two weeks into their trip, he doesn’t know how he’s going to survive “the oppressive temperatures, the stench, the crowds, and the death.”

And then he lands at the Savage Fortress, owned by Lord Alexander Savage, who has the world convinced he’s nearly a saint with all his many charities. Savage has summoned Uncle Vik and offered him two million pounds to translate ancient scrolls written in a lost language. Hidden behind proverbial curtains, Ash witnesses the exchange with mounting horror; his nightmares becomes real when he literally falls into a hidden portal from which he glimpses his own mysterious past …

“‘I’m tired of being poor,’” Vik initially replies to Ash’s protestations, but Vik’s conscience makes him tear up the check when he catches a glimpse of Savage’s true nature. Not used to being challenged, Savage is less than pleased, setting off a violent chain of events that send Ash and Lucky running for their very lives. Survival will depend on a holy man, a shapeshifting demon, and a street urchin … and the odds just aren’t looking so good.

Who needs video games, when you’ve got deadly monsters chasing you 24/7 in real time? So much for a typical summer vacation …!!!

Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult

Published: 2012

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Filed under ..Middle Grade Readers, ..Young Adult Readers, .Audio, .Fiction, British Asian, Indian

The City of Death (Ash Mistry Chronicles, Book 2) by Sarwat Chadda

City of DeathOkay, so we’re skipping ahead here, because I had to read this for a book judging requirement – and, in reading out of order, also confirm that it can narratively stand alone even without its prequel. I can’t reveal any trade secrets, but I can confirm that Book 2 of Sarwat Chadda‘s Ash Mistry series doesn’t need Book 1 (The Savage Fortress), but if you decide to turn back time, you’ll appreciate filling in a few details. That said, to maximize your sense of adventure, I would definitely stick to the 1 – 2 – 3 (3 being The World of Darkness, available on the other side of the Pond, but a U.S. pub date is still pending).

After a serious makeover summer in India, Ash is back home in London with his old friends, starting a new school year. He’s lost his adolescent pudge, learned how to kill with a single touch, and can run to Edinburgh and back in a single night (those nightmares about past lives keep the shuteye away). He might be the reborn “eternal warrior” of Kali, goddess of death and destruction, but he’s also still the same socially awkward teenager he was before his transformation; alas, none of his newly acquired skills are helpful as he fumbles to ask the gorgeous Gemma out on a date.

Then his old friend Parvati shows up to warn him that their nemesis, evil Lord Savage, is after the legendary Koh-I-Noor diamond, part of the British Crown Jewels – it’s the last relic he needs to unlock the secret to eternal life. Savage’s hench-monsters wreak havoc hunting down the priceless jewel, and in the violent skirmish, Gemma dies in Ash’s arms. Bent on revenge – not to mention saving the world yet again – Ash returns to India with Parvati to stop Savage once and for all. His not-so-secret determination to resurrect Gemma repeatedly impedes him from thinking clearly, even as his trust meter is tested again and again. But being a superhero when you’re still just a kid – with ever-growing powers you haven’t quite mastered! – is no easy job, especially when those new skills just might come at the cost of your own humanity.

Chadda updates ancient mythology to fit into a brave new world of instant access driven by cell phones, video games, and the world wide web. Technology might have advanced, but the war between good and evil remains forever timeless: get ready for young Ash Mistry, the latest vanquisher-in-training the world has been waiting for …

Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult

Published: 2013

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Filed under ..Middle Grade Readers, ..Young Adult Readers, .Fiction, British Asian, Indian

Untold Story by Monica Ali

Untold StoryMonica Ali’s latest novel which pubbed June 28, 2011, just before what would have been Diana Spencer’s 50th birthday – July 1, 2011 – had “The People’s Princess” lived. In case the cover wasn’t enough of a clue, that date detail matters because Untold Story imagines that Diana left her adoring public not via decorated casket, but was rowed away by a faithful staffer – an Oxford-degreed Foreign Officer turned history professor who was Diana’s Private Secretary! – to restart her new life as an American commoner. “Some stories are never meant to be told. Some can only be told as fairy tales,” opens this Story. That might have been ’nuff said right then and there … but we go on and on and on …

Train-wreck style, Ali resurrects a fragile Diana who undergoes the knife to change her renowned visage just enough, tones down her posh accent, wanders the States carrying the birth certificate of a dead British-born American, has a few meaningless peripatetic flings, and eventually settles somewhere in Middle America in a small town called – wait for it …! – Kensington (egads!).

She’s bought a small house (with a pool), works at an animal shelter, and has made a few close (as possible) friends, although she spends most of her time with a rescue canine named Rufus. She’s more or less gotten over her cutting and starving (she even has an opportunity to share her recovered wisdom with a friend’s troubled adolescent). She longs for her heir-and-a-spare, and keeps a box of clippings about them hidden in the back of her closet. She also has a kind, devoted lover with whom she can share little more than a bed. And then her image-stealing nemesis happens to randomly wander into Kensington, and recognizes her iconic eyes. What’s a distraught ex-royal to do? To run or not to run, that is again the question …

Ali’s debut, the unforgettable Brick Lane (shortlisted for the 2003 Booker Prize, adapted to celluloid in 2007), was one of those literary landscape-changing titles about the Bangladeshi British community. Not surprisingly, the novel garnered controversy for various unflattering portrayals of the locals, but in this case, even bad press was good press and Ali hit bestselling lists, and collected nominations, prizes, and other hefty accolades.

Loyal devotion to Brick Lane keeps me adding every Ali title to my shelves. Alas, I have yet to finish her Portuguese-set short story collection Alentejo Blue, or her deadly In the Kitchen. Sticking this Story into my ears is most likely what got me to the end: kudos indeed for narrators Emma Fielding (who assumes the royal voice) and Nicholas Farrell (who alternates between the elegant, saving secretary and the desperate, lifelong photo-snatcher) as they go far in making the implausible at least finishable.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2011

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Filed under ..Adult Readers, .Fiction, British, British Asian

Mira in the Present Tense by Sita Brahmachari

Mira in the Present TenseOn the evening of her 12th birthday, Mira Levenson receives three life-changing (death-defying) gifts: a diary, a charm, and her period.

As one-quarter of a school writing class (led by an author named Miss Print!), Mira finds her voice – silently at first through the diary she’s encouraged to keep, then in the laughter that refuses to be stifled, and finally in the words that burst forth surprising Mira most of all.

As Mira watches her 74-year-old grandmother weaken from cancer, Mira bears witness to her Nana’s indomitable spirit, never letting go of her sense of fun, justice, and boundless love for her family and friends. Nana gifts her favorite charm to Mira on her birthday: a tiny artichoke that represents Nana’s long life with more than enough room to hold Mira’s future.

As Mira tries on her sparkly birthday skirt – another gift from Nana – she realizes her period has arrived, physical proof that she’s no longer the little girl the adults still believe her to be. Perhaps not quite ready herself, Mira doesn’t tell a soul – not about that, and not about her butterfly-inducing feelings for a boy with the alliterative name of Jidé Jackson.

British author Sita Brahmachari‘s debut novel (titled Artichoke Hearts on the other side of the Pond, and winner of Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize in 2011) is an emotionally charged, deeply resonating journey of a hapa Jewish Indian British girl coming-of-age in the midst of saying goodbye to one of the most important adults in her life. While Mira dreads losing Nana, she begins to claim distance from those to whom she has always been closest as she moves toward new maturity, including the uncontrollable pull of first love. Her cocooned, comfortable London daily life faces harsh new realities, not only with Nana’s impending death (although not without joy and humor as she helps her eccentric artist grandmother paint her own coffin!), but as she learns of surprising, even shocking details of her classmates’ lives, from missing parents to surviving the Rwandan genocide.

Brahmachari’s story is symphonic in scope, effortlessly melding elements as surprising as beatniks, Frida Kahlo, Margaret Thatcher, ethnic pride, hospice care, foundlings puppies named Moses, and so much more. One tiny quibble kept running through my mind as I rapidly turned the pages – that Mira and her contemporaries seemed far more mature than their 12 years, not just as characters, but in their writing assignments with which they are credited; 14 or 15 might have been a more convincing age, but then, who’s counting?

Brahmachari has clearly drawn elements from her own life as well, from her hapa-ness inherited from her Indian doctor father and her English nurse mother (Mira’s maternal grandparents also match those descriptions), to Mira’s last name (the photo credit on Brahmachari’s author pic reveals one “Martin Levenson”). Perhaps those overlaps with the ‘real’ is why Mira proves to be such a convincing, effective, tissue-pulling work of truth-filled fiction.

Tidbit: Check out that cover. “[B]rown skin” is how Mira is described multiple times. Assuming that’s supposed to be our protagonist … uhhhhh … what happened??!!!

Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult

Published: 2011, 2013 (United States)

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Filed under ..Middle Grade Readers, ..Young Adult Readers, .Fiction, British Asian, Hapa

The Blind Man’s Garden by Nadeem Aslam + Author Interview

Blind Man's GardenFrom the opening few pages of reading a Nadeem Aslam novel, I knew his writing was something to treasure and behold. Serendipitously, I used my then-day job to bring the Pakistan-born, British-educated-and-domiciled Aslam over the Pond to be a featured guest at the then-annual South Asian Literary and Theater Arts Festival (SALTAF) at the Smithsonian Institution. In SALTAF‘s eight-year history at the Smithsonian, Aslam’s Maps for Lost Lovers – published stateside just in time for his appearance –is the only book that has ever sold out its sizable inventory before the lunch break. Never before or since has another SALTAF author commanded such exceptional sales.

The Smithsonian reading public’s sophisticated taste resonated far beyond: Maps for Lost Lovers won the Kiriyama Prize, was longlisted for the Booker, shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Award, and named a New York Times Notable Book. Maps is a contemplative, intimate look at a Pakistani community in northern England – self-named “Dasht-e-Tanhaii,” meaning “The Wilderness of Solitude” or “The Desert of Loneliness” – where a pair of unmarried lovers go missing. Five months later, the woman’s brothers are charged with their murder, and the man’s older brother must bring not only the families, but their reeling community, back together.

After discovering Maps, I instantly declared groupie status: Aslam is one of less-than-a-handful of personal favorite authors whose latest title causes nervous paralysis. For fear of the potentially long wait ahead until the next book (because there must always be a next book!), I agonize for months, even years, before actually daring to open certain authors’ newest titles.

Three years following Maps, in 2008, The Wasted Vigil hit U.S. shelves; I waited almost five years to finally read the novel. In fact, until I had this year’s The Blind Man’s Garden in hand, I couldn’t even peek at Vigil‘s first page. What I eventually discovered was a book of extremes: Aslam wields his language like a weapon, his mellifluous prose in cutting contrast to the horrific acts witnessed in the name of God, patriotism, honor, truth, and even love. Weaving in and out of the turbulent decades of Afghanistan’s modern history, Vigil gathers the interconnected stories of four disparate lost souls – Marcus, a septuagenarian British ex-pat doctor; Lara, a Russian widow searching for her late brother; David, a former CIA operative; and Casa, an injured young fundamentalist Muslim.

Aslam traveled extensively through Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to write Vigil, as well as interviewing some 200 Afghan refugees living in Britain. His international, peripatetic background places Aslam simultaneously on both “sides” of an incomprehensible conflict; that unique dissonance imbues Vigil with its unfathomable opposites – its terror and beauty, its deception and truth, its abhorrent hatred and unconditional love.

With Vigil finished, I might have hoarded the promising potential of Aslam’s Garden for a few more years (as it was, I had the galley for a good six months before its publication date) – had I not been assigned this interview. As a bonus, I also had a copy of Aslam’s 1993 first novel, Season of the Rainbirds, which finally made its stateside debut in March of this year two decades after its British publication, clearly timed to overlap with the May publication of Garden.

Dovetailing the reading of Aslam’s first and latest books reveals unexpected parallels. Rainbirds – spare and atmospheric – proves to be a character study of a remote Pakistani village’s inhabitants after the murder of one of its leading citizens. Garden is another detailed, careful observation of a not-so-dissimilar isolated town in Pakistan, the spotlight shrunken onto a single extended family and what happens when two sons – one by birth, the other by informal adoption – disappear. Garden tunnels deep into the tragic “war on terror” to examine the very lives of the individuals who must live through (or not) the shattering decisions of faraway leaders, governments, and regimes. When one brother secretly decides to go to Afghanistan in hopes of caring for the human collateral damage from the post-9/11 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the other immediately decides to join him. Together (and too soon apart), they embark on a harrowing journey of Odyssean feats in an attempt to return home.

For readers who have experienced Aslam before (and the apt word really is “experience”), you’ll recognize (and be awed by) his mesmerizing prose in Garden. Of course that sense of awe comes at a high price for me: as grateful as I am for the one-to-one opportunity to chat, I remain bereft that preparing for our authorly exchange cost me all lingering comfort of knowing I still had more Aslam to read. Now having finished his entire oeuvre, I wait (and wait and wait). Patience is not my virtue.

Is it true that you write your novels by hand? Is that why I’ll have to wait so long for the next book? And how, if ever, does the computer play a part in your writing process?
I write the first draft longhand. There is a feeling of direct contact with the paper through the nib. And the words seem to be flowing from my mind into my hand, then down the pen, and onto the page – blood becoming ink. But after the first draft, I move everything onto the computer, mainly for editing. (I use an eight-year-old Dell laptop, very heavy and gray.) I print out each chapter in three font sizes: First in 12-point, which is my usual size. Then in eight-point – which is the smallest size available, so there are more words in each line – and therefore the eye reads faster, instinctively. The eye, in its hurry to get to the end of each line, takes in more words – so you think not about individual words but about the overall narrative and the storyline, the pacing. Then I print the chapter in 14-point – which means there are fewer words in each line, so the eye slows down, and you do think about every word – the weight of it, the lightness of it. [... click here for sooooo much more]

Author interview: Feature: “An Interview with Nadeem Aslam,” Bookslut.com, July 2013

Readers: Adult

Published: 2013

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Filed under ...Author Interview/Profile, ..Adult Readers, .Fiction, Afghan, British Asian, Pakistani

Brush of the Gods by Lenore Look, illustrated by Meilo So

Brush of the GodsSomehow, over the last millennium-plus, the life story of Wu Daozi (689-759), possibly China’s greatest painter, went mostly missing. Chinese American author Lenore Look (best known for her entertaining double series about growing up bicultural, Alvin Ho and Ruby Lu), together with British Asian illustrator Meilo So, whimsically reimagine the artist in this splendid new title that echoes Wu’s greatest accomplishment: “He introduced the concept of depicting movement in figures and their clothing,” Look explains in her “Author’s Note.” So’s flowing watercolored lines make sure that “[h]is figures’ scarves billowed, their robes swum, and their hair blew in the wind.”

What begins as calligraphy lessons quickly becomes much more for the precocious young boy: “Each day something new and surprising dripped out of Daozi’s brush.” His drawings move from paper to “walls everywhere,” amazing all passers-by. Admirers willingly pay him, feed him … gifts he shares excitedly with the poor.

As the years pass, his paintings become so powerful as to fly, flutter, gallop off his brush. The monks accuse him of boasting and his admirers vanish. Yet the children continue to marvel and believe until the crowds once again multiply to such numbers that even the emperor requests “a grand masterpiece” on an entire palace wall, giving Wu “the greatest honor [he] could imagine.”

“Legend has it that Wu Daozi never died – he merely walked into his final painting … and disappeared,” Look adds at title’s end. That work – along with some 300 frescoes – didn’t survive. Piecing together references to Wu from poems and essays written by his contemporaries, Look and So create their own legend here … providing lavish inspiration for a new generation of artists to imagine and dream.

Readers: Children

Published: 2013

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Filed under Chinese, Chinese American, .Fiction, ..Children/Picture Books, .Biography, British Asian

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

WaveConfession: I started Wave stuck in the ears, but didn’t get very far because the narrator seems to have a lisp – which is not a judgment about the reader herself, but my little ears had too challenging a time comprehending each sentence. This is a book for which absorbing every word is a must, so I resorted gratefully to the page. Bottom line: Wave is the most unflinching, illuminating memoir about horrific personal tragedy I have ever, ever come across.

The title begins in Yala, a national park on Sri Lanka’s southeastern coast, on December 26, 2004. What should have been the final day of an annual holiday break for a London-based family of four with their Sri Lankan grandparents is brought to a shattering end when an epic tsunami claims over 230,000 lives. Sonali Deraniyagala is her family’s sole survivor, losing her parents, husband, and two young sons. She wants nothing else but to join them: “I will kill myself soon.”

Over the next eight years, Deraniyagala – an Oxbridge-trained economist – progresses from utter “stunned” shutdown to allowing herself to admit the truth of her loss, to revisiting her memories little by little, and to opening her mind and heart to what her life might have become with her family intact. From obsessively bullying the Dutch renters of her Sri Lankan childhood home, to sleeping four years later in the unchanged bed of her London house, to finally being able to spend time with her sons’ maturing friends, Deraniyagala’s journey is simultaneously wrenching and remarkably hopeful.

Take note: the memoir is dedicated to “Alexandra and Kristiana” – the heart breaks yet again (and again and again) when you realize that entwined in those names are Deraniyagala’s children as they could have been, should have been. That a person can survive such loss is beyond comprehension; that she is able to share that experience with such unflinching, raw vulnerability is pure testimony to human resilience … and ultimately proves to be a literary gift of magnificent proportions.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2013

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Filed under .Nonfiction, South Asian, ..Adult Readers, .Memoir, British Asian, Sri Lankan

The Night Ferry by Michael Robotham

Night FerryIf I had not stuck Tana French‘s Dublin Murder Squad thrillers in my ears, I might never have discovered Australian journalist-turned-bestselling novelist Michael Robotham – French’s The Likeness (I think) ended with the ‘if you liked x, then try y‘-recommendation that led me to Night Ferry.

Contrarian that I am, however, of course I have a quibble. Like French, Robotham elevates his latest protagonist from a less-than-starring role from his book before – love that clever narrative domino! While each book is also a standalone title, carryover details always enhance the reading experience. Night Ferry is #3 in Robotham’s dark oeuvre, which means his leading lady here, Alisha Barbar, had a supporting role in #2, Lost, whose protagonist Vincent Ruiz appeared first in Robotham’s debut, Shattered, which stars Robotham’s most popular leading man, Joseph O’Loughlin. Got all that? All that means is that if you’re new to Robotham’s thrillers (he has eight out already!), best to start at the beginning: Shattered. I’ll be reading backwards myself.

Okay, so introductory digression aside, meet Ali Barbar, a British detective of Indian Sikh heritage. A former competitive runner who almost made it to the Olympics, Ali has just recently returned to her job at London’s Metropolitan Police a year after a horrific accident: she helped solve a kidnapping case that left her spine crushed, and defied all her doctors to make a fully mobile recovery.

After eight years of silence, Ali receives a terrified note from her childhood best friend begging for Ali’s help. When Ali next meets Cate at a school reunion, Cate – visibly pregnant – manages to blurt out, “‘They want to take my baby. They can’t. You have to stop them.’”  That evening as they leave the reunion, Cate and her husband are fatally wounded, and Ali is left to piece together what happened.

At over 500 pages (or more than 12 hours stuck in the ears – narrator Clare Corbett is chillingly controlled), the plot will twist and turn plenty before Ali unravels the knotted strands around a fake pregnancy, illegal immigration, desperate refugees, school violence, virgin mothers, evil fathers, wayward heroes, while criss-crossing through Britain, the Netherlands, and Afghanistan.

Perhaps the one character detail that doesn’t quite keep up the pace is Ali’s Indian Sikh heritage. Her ethnicity seems superficial, occasionally clumsy, providing at best an opportunity to give her stereotypical Asian parents, especially her dotingly demanding mother determined to marry off her still-single daughter. The eligible doctor planted at a family gathering in order to meet Ali proves to be useful enough to the plot, although again, the mother-daughter-doctor could have been of any background. Ironically, that the protagonist is British Sikh was exactly what made me choose the title. As unfulfilling as that detail proves to be, the rest of the engaging narrative builds swift momentum you won’t want to miss.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2007 (United States)

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Filed under .Fiction, ..Adult Readers, British Asian, Australian, .Audio