Farzana Doctor's Fascinating and Engaging First Novel.
STEALING NASREEN is a novel about the lives of three very different people, all of whom belong to the same small religious community. Set in Toronto with back story in Mumbai, Nasreen Bastawala, an Indo-Canadian lesbian and burnt-out psychologist, becomes enmeshed in the lives of Shaffiq and Salma Paperwala, new immigrants from Mumbai. While working in the same Toronto hospital as Nasreen, Shaffiq develops a persistent and confusing fascination with Nasreen, causing him to bring home and hide things he "finds" in her office. Salma, his wife, discovers some of these hidden treasures and suspects that something is amiss. Unbeknownst to Shaffiq, Nasreen begins attending weekly Gujarati classes taught by Salma, who finds herself inexplicably attracted to her student. This attraction harkens back memories and regrets Salma holds about a lesbian affair that ended badly years ago. Without knowing that it is happening, Nasreen becomes the centre of Shaffiq and Salma's lives. Each keeps a secret about Nasreen, and in so doing risks their marriage, while Nasreen struggles to come to terms with her mother's death, her recent break-up, and her new relationship with her father. An impulsive kiss between Salma and Nasreen sets off a surprising course of events.
Praise for Stealing Nasreen:
Jim Bartley’s Globe and Mail review: “Farzana Doctor’s first novel offers a study in linked solitudes and secrets. Shaffiq Paperwala is an educated young man from India who, lacking a Canadian degree, is relegated to janitorial work in a Toronto psychiatric hospital. Nasreen Bastawala, a psychologist in the hospital, encounters him at the end of each work day as he begins his shift…What has stayed with me are the unerring interior dramas: Shaffiq despairing for his family’s future; Nasreen, in a trance of sadness, hovering near the edge of a subway platform; Salma thinking with sweet regret of Raj, her lost Mumbai lover.” August 11, 2007
Susan G. Cole’s NOW review:”There’s an awful lot going on in Farzana Doctor’s fascinating first novel, Stealing Nasreen. Touching on themes of grief, desire and assimilation, Doctor lays out an ambitious array of characters and dilemmas and, for the most part, pulls them together with admirable skill…A terrific touch comes via an erotically tinged painting of a rani and her servant that hangs in their home. The rani’s expression seems to change depending on whether she’s expressing amusement or disdain for the secrets the two must conceal…you can tell from reading Stealing Nasreen that the author knows a lot about life. This unique contribution to CanLit probes the problems and joys of creating an open, diverse society.” NOW | JUNE 7 – 13, 2007 | VOL. 26 NO. 40
Tara Lee’s Quill and Quire Review:”The process of leaving one’s country and finding a sense of belonging in another is often rife with uncertainty and turmoil. What makes Stealing Nasreen such a riveting read is the way it takes this uncertainty and makes it even more complex by adding sexuality and desire to the angst-filled immigrant experience. Stealing Nasreen reveals the intricacies of human relationships, but more importantly, it is an eye-opening critique of the multicultural dream. The Paperwalas exist apart from a mainstream society that sees them as anonymous Indian immigrants. These characters challenge anonymity as they work through their own unique needs and wants… In the end, these characters discover that belonging is a continuous and maddening act of reaching for the elusive.” July, 2007
Mridula Nath Cahkraborty’s Herizon’s review: “Verdict: This is a lovely piece of work, comely in its appeal, confident in its address. It’s a work of love and longing and loss, and also of reconciliation and rejuvenation. In a voice that is completely assured of itself, Farzana Doctor weaves a tale of new and old immigrants in the impersonal and impervious megapolis that is Toronto.” Sept. 22, 2008
Jodi Lungren’s Canadian Literature review: “Stealing Nasreen creates an extraordinary degree of intimacy by juxtaposing sensory detail—“the air holds memories of thousands of meals cooked here, hints of cumin mixed expertly with tumeric, coriander, and chili”—with the probing self-reflections of the central characters” October 2008
DISTRIBUTION in the US and Canada.
Also available through Rupa in India.
NOW AVAILABLE AS AN E-BOOK! Check your online booksellers.
TEACHERS AND ACADEMICS: Stealing Nasreen has been used as a course text by a number of disciplines, including Women's Studies, Social Work, Sociology, Religious Studies and English. If you are interested in using my books as course texts, contact the publishers for a review copy. I may be available to come speak to your class.
Stealing Nasreen has a GLOSSARY.