It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Halfways by Nilopar Uddin.
About the Author
Nilopar Uddin was born in Shropshire to Syleti parents, who like the fictional family in The Halfways owned and ran an Indian restaurant in Wales. Every summer her family would travel for their holidays to Bangladesh to visit extended family, and this affection for the country has continued into adulthood; in 2009 she spent some months in Dhaka volunteering for BRAC, one of the largest NGOs in the world.
About the book
Nasrin and Sabrina are two sisters, who on the face of things live successful and enviable lives in London and New York. When their father, Shamsur suddenly dies, they rush to be with their mother at the family home and restaurant in Wales, and reluctantly step back into the stifling world of their childhood.
When Shamsur’s will is read, a devastating secret is revealed that challenges all that people thought and loved about him. It also profoundly changes the lives and identities of the sisters, and creates an irreparable family rift…
The death of a loved one can often mean you get a glimpse into all of their secrets after their death. The kind they sit on and then let you deal with, because they no longer have to and in death you can’t hear the reactions. When Shamsur dies his daughters, Nasrin and Sabrina, are confronted with decades old secrets and the intricate cover-up, which has left terrible scars and caused emotional turmoil. The face of their family will never look the same again.
Personally I thought the choice to include a lot of the words and phrases in the story in the origin language was both a bold choice, there are plenty of readers who find things like that a stumbling block, and one that lent an essence of atmosphere to the story. An air of authenticity, which pulls the reader into the very important cultural aspect of this family saga. Glossary at the front will probably solve any grumbles.
Towards the end in the last few chapters the author manages to create this very visceral connection to the vulnerability of one of the characters – a connection that is a common denominator in all cultures. The small gestures of reassurance, the internal fear of abandonment, but above all the invisible woven emotional web of familial ties.
The difficulty of balancing dual nationalities, cultures and identities is really driven home in this story. The Western values clash with the heritage and culture, old and new generations try to bridge these gaps in different ways or not at all. Often this happens in countries where colonialism is the foundation upon which society has been built.
It’s a nuanced read, and the author tells the tale through multiple narrators in a way that brings empathy, passion and the cold hard truth of the aftermath of decisions made in the echo chamber of restricted and power hungry societies. Looking forward to more by this author.