Top positive review
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Complex and compelling
on December 5, 2009
I can't understand why more people, at least more Amazon reviewers, have apparently not yet discovered the extraordinarily talented Roopa Farooki. For several years I've been feasting on a banquet of novels by writers from the Indian subcontinent ,and Farooki serves up some of the tastiest and subtlest dishes.
Both her excellent first novel, "Bitter Sweets," and this one are populated by multigenerational families; getting to know those grandparents and teenagers, as well as the middle generation, is like expanding your own family--without the obligation to call on their birthdays. Farooki loves to play with words and does so with skill and often humor. (Look for the verbal joke in Jinan's faked heart trouble.)
Farooki is a daring architect. The first half of "Corner Shop" develops several plotlinrs from different characters' viewpoints. Zaki, the charming 50-something patriarch, has passionate affairs with the lovely Frenchwoman Delphine, both before and after she marries his strait-laced but endearing son Jinan (who is technically Zaki's stepson, but there's still a frisson of incest). Delphine's own adolescent son (could his father actually be Zaki? ) is consumed by his dream of becoming a pro footballer for England; prepare for detailed but dramtic play-by-plays of the game we know as soccer.
In Part Two of this saga, much of the action and viewpoint suddenly shift, bur all the players are still heard from. Alas, a coda, somewhat awkwardly tacked on in a final chapter, inexplicably fails to explain what has happened over the years to the charismatic Zaki. This surprising lacuna, and Farooki's occasional descemt into "chick lit" silliness, are the only reasons I'm not awarding five stars to this otherwise engaging, page-turning novel.
Farooki has written a third novel, "The Way Things Look To Me," about a girl with Asperger's syndrome and her two siblings, but so far it has not been published in the U.S. (You can easily get it from amazon.ca or amazon.co.uk.) And her fourth one, "Half Life," will be published in the U.S.on April 27, 2010.