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Six Metres of Pavement Paperback – February 17, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ismail Boxwala, an ultimately good man haunted by a horrible mistake, provides the focal point of Doctor's moving second novel in which she examines with crystalline clarity the plight of this gentle, middle-aged Indian immigrant living in Toronto. Twenty years ago, Boxwala accidentally left his baby locked in his car, resulting in her death. The tragedy destroys his marriage and induces a long struggle with drink; still, Ismail keeps his job and home and eventually finds himself drawn to Celia Sousa, a 50-year-old Portuguese widow, left penniless by her gambling-addict husband, and currently living with her daughter on Ismail's street. Doctor (Stealing Nazreen) charts the growing heat between Ismail and Celia and weaves in a sweet secondary story about Ismail's fatherly friendship with Fatima Kahn, a bisexual Indian college student. Doctor also folds the past into the present throughout, allowing the dead to haunt the living and providing both a realistic portrayal of suffering and a paean to second chances. (Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Named a Top Ten Book of 2011 by NOW Magazine.
Won a Rainbow Award in the category of Best Contemporary Lesbian General Fiction.

Toronto writer Farzana Doctor's second novel is a sensitively written story about the complexities of human relationships, with the added twist of the immigrant experience A warmly felt portrait of an unusual but successful remaking of a family. (The Sudbury Star)

Its enough to hope that Doctor would consider a sequel to this tender portrait of strangers finding community in each other. It would be worth the wait. (Lamda Literary Review)

Set in Little Portugal, this novel offers a poignant perspective on difference and understanding. (Spacing)

With a quiet, inward-looking analysis of Ismails life, Six Metres of Pavement asks how mourning can make way for grief when its cemented by guilt, and if memories can be defanged. Simmering in the background is a remarkable portrait of immigrant Toronto. (This Magazine)

As a flawed and immensely likable character, Ismail fascinated me with both his lack of vision and awareness for his own life, as well as his damaged heart and soul, that through the course of the book, shifts. He lives in emotional and psychic pain, never having healed, or forgiven himself. Joining him, with their own complex, painful and fascinating histories, are two very different women who have profound and life-changing effects on Ismail, and on each other. (Rabble.ca)

The premise for Farzana Doctors second book is compelling. (Quill and Quire)

Ismail Boxwala, an ultimately good man haunted by a horrible mistake, provides the focal point of Doctor's moving second novel in which she examines with crystalline clarity the plight of this gentle, middle-aged Indian immigrant living in Toronto. (Publishers Weekly)

If youre looking for believable characters, look no further than Farzana Doctor's fiction. She has a gift for reality-based situations and conveys anxiety and passion in a story that turns into a real page-turner. (NOW Magazine)

Novels dont often spring sudden tears from me. This story did it several times, and never with tawdry tugs at the heartstrings. The book cuts deep, to the core of love, universal need and our responsibility to others. (Xtra! Toronto)

I laughed and cried as I read Six Metres of Pavement and followed Ismail and Celia endearing, brave, and foolish characters who have to live with the irreparable and irreversible. Farzana Doctor blends cross-cultural empathy with wisdom, and shows us paths to wholeness. Read this delightful, warm guide to remaking and choosing your family. (Shauna Singh Baldwin, author of What the Body Remembers, The Tiger Claw and We Are Not in Pakistan)

Its heartfelt work about characters who come to treat their worst scars with due respect and who learn to abide in chosen families who love them. It speaks with a compassionate voice to a truth that surrounds us. (Carolesbooktalk)

Some voices, despite quiet cadences, succeed in making themselves heard very clearly above the cacophony of lesser noises. Writer Farzana Doctor undoubtedly belongs to this minor group, speaking in meaningful whispers and bewitching her readers into complete submission… In her second novel, Six Metres of Pavement, Doctor takes a wild audacious leap, visibly and joyously coming into her own. This is seriously good writing here, such good writing that it hurts. The prose is punctuated with the most delicious silences, the characters display the most eccentric twirls and loops and the tone of the novel, is never, never quite predictable. Such a breath of fresh air! (The Hindu)

the characters are refreshingly genuine. Throughout, Doctor skillfully plays with concepts of motion, migration and movement, both physical and emotional. (The Globe and Mail)

It’s impossible to read Six Metres and be left untouched. Parents of young children will be left biting their lip because they have been in a situation where they just almost forget. College students will understand the complicated love and boundaries of their families. Older readers may recognize Celia’s unrelenting independent spirit in themselves. And everyone in between? They’ll read about a set of perfectly imperfect human beings trying to make sense of circumstances both self-inflicted and uncontrolled. And, with Doctor’s last pages, they’ll be reminded that we are all in the process of healing from something or another. (TPL’s Virtual Book Club)

Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Dundurn; 1St Edition edition (February 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1554887674
  • ISBN-13: 978-1554887675
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,571,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Farzana Doctor's first novel, Stealing Nasreen, received critical acclaim upon its release in 2007. Her second book, Six Metres of Pavement, was named one of Now Magazine's Top Ten Books of 2011. It also won the Lambda Literary (2012) and was short-listed for the Toronto Book Award (2012). Farzana was named as one of CBC Books' "Ten Canadian Women Writers You Need to Read Now" and was the recipient of the Writers' Trust of Canada's Dayne Ogilvie Grant (2011). Her third novel, All Inclusive, will be released October 2015.

Besides novels, Doctor also writes poetry and has written on social work and diversity-related topics. She provides private practice consulting and psychotherapy services. She lives in Toronto, where she is co-curator of the Brockton Writers Series. www.farzanadoctor.com

Farzana is always happy to chat with book clubs (in person or over the phone or Skype) and to come speak at your events. Feel free to e-mail her at farzanadoctorATrogers.com

Find her on Facebook and Twitter (farzanadoctor)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Ismail and Celia are neighbours. They live across the street from each other ... six metres of pavement apart.

Ismail is originally from India, in his early fifties and works for the City of Toronto as an engineer. Twenty years ago, he made a mistake that changed his life forever ... he'd forgotten to drop his young daughter off at daycare and had left her in her car seat in his car and she died in the heat. Within a year, his marriage was over and Ismail consoled himself over the years with too much drinking in his local pub.

Celia is a Portuguese Canadian and was almost fifty. Within a couple weeks, her husband and mother passed away, she lost her home due to her husband's debts and she was forced to move in with her daughter and her daughter's family. She spends her time dressed in widow black, taking care of her young grandson, sleeping and looking out the window, watching Ismail, who is also watching her. A couple years pass and they eventually started to talk and start to find in each other the happiness they had given up on.

In the meantime, Ismail meets Fatima, a 20-year-old Indian whose parents kick her out when they discover she is gay, and they become friends.

This is the first book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it. It is written in third person perspective with a focus mainly shifting between Ismail and Celia. I liked the writing style and found myself caught up in the story and the characters. I liked the main characters, Ismail, Celia and Fatima.

I liked that there were non-traditional elements (an older Indian guy dating an older Portuguese widow and befriending a younger woman who likes other women).
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Format: Paperback
Have you ever found yourself out in public - on a bus or subway, at a park or in the waiting room of a doctors office - and you're watching strangers and wondering to yourself; what's their story? Well this is their story.

I loved Six Metres of Pavement. Farzana Doctor is an incredibly gentle and funny storyteller with a wonderful eye for small details of life. The story that unfolds (which you're better off not knowing about in advance) is compelling, more than enough to keep you engaged and entertained. But the characters are the heart of the novel.

They become your friends, and as they fumble around trying to figure out how to survive in a world that never seems to make room for their complicated painful histories, you want to know how they do it, you laugh when they bump up against each other and themselves, and you root for them as if rooting for your own future happiness. They are the kind of characters you miss when you finish the novel.

The ways that characters sexual, cultural, and ethnic identities intersect, sometimes clashing and sometimes meshing is often laugh out loud hilarious. Their individual struggles include some unimaginable horrors, but still feel familiar. These may not be things that have happened in your own life, but it's the stuff of life that you know happens, that you've been touched by.

In some ways Six Metres of Pavement is a perfectly Toronto novel. And I should admit that I read it while away from Toronto, which probably made me love it all the more. But because Toronto is the city it is, the setting, the story, and the characters end up being both from and of countries and times far beyond the shores of Lake Ontario. It's hard to imagine anyone who won't find a friend in this book.
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Format: Paperback
At writers' conferences, it is often commented that it is riskier to set a novel in a Canadian city, than in a foreign locale say Delhi. The main reason being offered is that the plot may not be appealing to American readers. However, Farzana Doctor's second novel, Six Metres of Pavement, set in the Little Portugal district and other environs of Toronto, compares admirably with those set in the streets of a cosmopolitan city say in the UK. The themes of the novel such as, love, tragedy, family and multi-cultural relationships, sexual orientation, addiction, and redemption are its main appeal, while the setting in an ethnic neighbourhood adds to their flavour. These are all told by Farzana in her unique voice, and by presenting the local viewpoints, she voids the "MacDonaldification" of the writing as one reviewer has put it.

The book starts not only with an intriguing title and the cover, but also the captivating image of Ismail Boxwala, an Indian immigrant and a municipal engineer, who is attempting to overcome a twenty-year old tragedy by `staying in motion,' which among the normal daily activities involves a lot of elbow-bending at the local tavern. Farzana gradually reveals that heartbreaking event, masterfully, in snippets of flashbacks while moving the story-line forward and maintaining our concentration. We learn of the accidental death of his nearly two-year old daughter, who he'd inadvertently left in the back seat of his parked car on a hot summer morning. The child died leaving Ismail with immense grief, remorse and nightmarish images that haunt him virtually to the end of the novel. There are other repercussions of the loss.
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