A Small Fortune

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An entertaining debut novel that explores the lives of an extended Pakistani family—all with a gently humorous touch and fond but wry eye.

Harris, the presumed patriarch of his large extended family in both England and Pakistan, has unexpectedly received a “small fortune” from his divorce settlement with an English woman: £53,000. As a devout Muslim, Harris views this sum as a “burden of riches” that he must unload on someone else as quickly as possible. But deciding which relative to give it to proves to be a burden of its own, and soon he has promised it both to his extremely poor cousins in Pakistan and to his Westernized, college-student daughter. Then, in a rash bout of guilt and misunderstanding, Harris signs the entire sum away to the least deserving, most prosperous cousin of all. This solves none of his problems and creates many more, exacerbating a tricky web of familial debt and obligation on two sides of the world, until the younger generation steps in to help.

With insight, affection, and a great gift for character and story, Dastgir immerses us in a rich, beautifully drawn immigrant community and complex extended family. She considers the challenges between relatives of different cultural backgrounds, generations, and experiences — and the things they have to teach one another. A Small Fortune offers an affectionate and affecting look at class, culture, and the heartbreak of misinterpretation.

A Small Fortune is published in the US by Riverhead/Penguin and in the UK by Quercus. Published in France (January 2013) by Editions Christian Bourgois.

“Rosie Dastgir’s unflinching examination of clashing cultures, priorities, loyalty and unintended consequences is an engaging and enlightening addition to the east-meets-west genre.”

Katherine Whitbourn, Daily Mail

“Dastgir’s decision to highly the darker side of family – that it’s a web of oblivations which can be exploited for selfish ends – is one of the freshest aspects of the book. She is a terrifically economical and accessible writer: in 400 pages there isn’t a boring moment . . . a hugely enjoyable novel whose characters come to vibrant life on the page.”

Alastair Mabbott, Paperback of the Week, Glasgow Herald

“Dastgir weaves a vivid and delightful saga about an extended family of Pakistani immigrants . . . It’s a wonderful story, set in an England that you might recognize only peripherally . . . This book is funny, poignant, true and sad, and I was enthralled.”

Laurie Hertzel, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“As the novel progresses in deftly evoked scenes and flashes of humor, Dastgir moves further and further into the man’s conscience, his reluctance to grapple with reality, and his very human knack of holding traditional convictions while letting them slide in his actions. When redemption comes, that small fortune plays exactly the proper role.”

Katherine Powers, Washington Post

“For [everyone] in this beguiling novel, culture, ideology, and even spiritual beliefs are trumped by the universal pull of family.”

Karen Holt, O, the Oprah Magazine

“The way to enjoy this debut novel is to not focus on what Harris does with the money, but by observing the descriptions that Dastgir makes of the little things in life, from food (‘all those wretched tin cans, the leathery joints of meat’) to dates.”

This Week’s Hot Reads, The Daily Beast

“Dastgir’s debut novel reveals her gift for capturing characters and cultures complicated by a burden of riches.”

Barnes & Noble Review

“Harris, a likable, middle-aged Pakistani émigré living in the North of England, immediately comes to life in the opening pages of this charming debut novel . . . An absorbing conclusion reveals Dastgir’s talent, heart, and clear knack for pulling it all together.”

Publishers Weekly

“Dastgir’s smartly written first novel entertains even as it captures the essence of the changing immigrant community and the slow urban decline of contemporary England.”

Library Journal

“This wry, heartfelt novel of Pakistanis in England traces the ‘chain of dependency’ that stretches from the village back home to London and the north . . . readers across generations will recognize both the bliss of reunion and the confusion, overcrowding, and clashes that arise when the space is too small.”

Hazel Rochman, Booklist

“Deeply satisfying . . . Dastgir follows the braided, conflicting streams of loyalty, tradition, and extremism with great compassion and gentle humour. Readers will cheer for characters who are almost more real than the actual people around them.”

Helen Mallon, Fiction Writers Review

“A delightful surprise . . . This comedy of errors is almost Shakespearean with its intertwining plots and disagreements between the young and the old.”

Shannon Sharpe, Salty Eggs

“A beautiful look at an immigrant community and the consequences, intended and unintended, that our choices can have.”

Swapna Krishna, SheKnows.com

“This is a very smart novel with multiple but clear perspectives, one that has a sort of shyness to it; Dastgir does not grandstand, she merely seeks to inform, and she does so with a heartbreaking kind of clarity that would otherwise elude any and all of her characters.”

The Literary Gothamite

“Towering above all this is the humanity of all the characters, major or minor . . . A finely-etched portrait of the immigrant life, peopled by characters whom you can touch and feel, sharing their sense of achievement and loss that is inevitable in setting up a home away from one’s own cultural moorings.”

Utkal Mohanty, Deccan Herald

“Dastgir, who was born in England but lives in Brooklyn, knows how to spin a yarn, with characters who leap off the page, and she goes some way towards answering the question of identity. Because in the end we are how we choose to define ourselves.”

Thomas Quinn, The Big Issue

“Dastgir is particularly perceptive about first-generation immigrants’ preoccupations with minute class signifiers . . . Her screenwriting flair shines through in the deft jump-cuts between Lahore, Whitechapel and Yorkshire, and the arresting images of London’s urban decay.”

Anna Travis, Times Literary Supplement

“Masterly and very, very cleverly done … There’s a real sense of layers of history as people have come and gone, each making the best they could whilst they were there . . . a book to read and then reread.”

Sue Magee, The Bookbag

US PAPERBACK: Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

US HARDBACK: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, Books A Million

US E-BOOK: Kindle, Nook, iBook

UK HARDBACK: Amazon, Book Depository, Waterstones, W.H. Smith

UK E-BOOK: Kindle, Kobo, iBook

FRANCE: Editions Christian Bourgois