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Author Bali Rai gets your attention from the very beginning and at the end questions the adherence to some extreme cultural traditions that have been imported into the Western world. The need to retain one’s cultural identity is perceived as an imperative by the older generation while the younger generation strives to establish a balance between the two worlds of traditional and Western lifestyle.
Rai’s honest and very effective novel is about the arranged marriage of Jas Kooner to Taz Atwal. It soon becomes very evident to the reader that Jas is not happy- then she mysteriously disappears. Her husband claims that she has eloped with another man. Her family believes the story, disowns her and does not report her missing. Sat, her younger brother is the only one who finds the story hard to believe.
More than two years later Sat approaches journalist Amanda Ryan, with hard evidence to prove just what happened to Jas.
Set in a British Asian community this shocking story about traditional ideas of family and honour is actually based on truth. It will also provoke discussion on cultural identity and values that can as rich as they are confusing in a new country.
In his epilogue, Bali Rai reveals his intent for writing this novel as well as his absolute contempt for ‘honour killings’.
review by Janice
image by Mrs Hilksom
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