Zayyan writes Sameer’s experience of Uganda as a travelogue, a romance, a journey of self-discovery that veers close to sentimentality. It’s muddled, but perhaps confusion is the condition of a post-colonial culture. The novel captures how exiled Asians and black Africans are entangled in Uganda’s history, caught between the British colonisers of its past and the Chinese developers that are its future. Amid all this, the romance that evolves between Sameer and Maryam reads like a miracle, something good that might yet be salvaged from trauma. But Zayyan won’t allow such easy relief: the anxieties that have simmered throughout the novel finally surface at its end, taking a sinister shape in the shadowy last lines. It’s a daringly indeterminate way to end, and undeniably powerful too.
My favourite — a dual timescale novel! One thread tells of Sameer, a young lawyer working in London, who is offered a job in Singapore. His parents feel he should move back to Leicester and help with the family business. The other thread is about his greandfather who grew up in Uganda.
First novel from the co-winner of the inaugural #Merky Books New Writers' Prize-who by day is an international dispute resolution lawyer-is based on the author's own family history and moves between two continents and several generations. In present-day London, Sameer, a successful lawyer, is called back to his family home by an unexpected tragedy, and starts to unpick his family history. In 1960s Uganda, Hasan is struggling to run the family business when a new regime seizes power and he faces losing everything.