Shortlisted for the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2016
Shortlisted for the Karachi Literature Festival Getz Pharma Fiction Prize
A debut of great sophistication told in the alternating voices of a young girl and her father.
Irenie's mother, James's wife, Yasmeen vanished five years ago. Father and daughter have always been distant. Yasmeen and Irenie were perhaps unhealthily close. James has never told Irenie anything about Yasmeen's disappearance. She is presumed dead but, Irenie can't or won't believe it. The story starts with 15-year-old Irenie up in a loft space above her father's study, haunting him with her mother's brand of cigarettes, her music, her perfume, even recitals of her favourite poetry. In that space Irenie finds a box containing love letters exchanged between her mother and a man called Ahmed.
Through reading the letters Irenie comes to know a completely different Yasmeen, a woman who, all her life, was in love with a man Irenie had never heard of. Each chapter starts with a quote from these letters. You don't know why the two never got together, you don't know exactly what happened to Yasmeen at the end. The reader discovers the details as Irenie does, and along the way comes to know Irenie and James intimately. The story takes place partly in Crawford, a fictional town in upstate New York where James teaches classics at a minor college and Irenie goes to school (and also makes James elaborate Pakistani dishes her mother used to make, which have always gone cold by the time he gets round to eating them). Irenie also travels to Islamabad to find out more about her mother, and ends up living the life of an ordinary teenager with her cousins. The denouement is beautiful. James is extremely well rendered (reminiscent of Stoner from Williams' novel but of our own time) and Irenie is equally well brought to life – a clever, capable but lost teenager.
A stunning debut novel about obsessive, selfish love, family ties and a young girl learning to understand her father, move from out of the shadow of her mother and make her own way.
'A shattering and uplifting tale of obsessive love, family ties and a desperate search for closure.' Asian Age
‘Spellbinding… the novel takes the reader on an exciting journey that describes the effects of an all-engaging, all-consuming, passionate love.' Youlin magazine
'A budding young writer who has produced a masterpiece of a novel that transcends time, space and continents.' Fashion
'Top books to read this year.' Sunday, Pakistan
'Wuthering Heights set in the 21st century, with a dash of Anna Karenina.' davidkevyn.wordpress.com
'Touching and wise.' Bella magazine Germany, Books of the Summer
'A brilliant and beautifully tender debut novel exploring the twisting paths of fate.' FÜR SIE
'Poignant and wise.' BELLA
'Yasmeen is a truly gripping work of fiction.' Magazin 'frei!'
'Touching and sophisticated, this cleverly written debut… tells of a secret love and its consequences for an entire family.' Siegener Zeitung
Diana Verlag/Random House Germany
Periscope Books UK
Material: Finished copies (308pp)