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.)
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Named a Top Ten Book of 2011 by NOW Magazine.
Won a Rainbow Award in the category of Best Contemporary Lesbian General Fiction.
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.
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.
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.
the characters are refreshingly genuine. Throughout, Doctor skillfully plays with concepts of motion, migration and movement, both physical and emotional.
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.
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.
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.
"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. "
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.
The premise for Farzana Doctors second book is compelling.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Set in Little Portugal, this novel offers a poignant perspective on difference and understanding.