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