Sunday, 14 July 2019

Razia by Abda Khan

Razia by Abda Khan
Published in the UK by Unbound on the 11th July 2019.

R for my 2019 Alphabet Soup Challenge, a 2019 New Release Challenge read and one of my 2019 COYER Summer Hunt reads

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Farah is a lawyer living and working in London. She’s just ended a long relationship, and her parents are looking for a husband – whether Farah wants one or not. So far, so normal. But at a work dinner, hosted by a dangerously powerful man, she comes across a young woman called Razia, who Farah soon realises is being kept as a domestic slave.

Farah travels from the law courts of London to the brick kilns of Lahore, and there she begins to uncover the traps that keep generations of people enslaved. Everywhere she turns there is deep-rooted oppression and corruption. She teams up with a human rights lawyer Ali to seek justice for Razia, but they cannot prevent the disaster that unfolds. 

Will Farah discover the explosive secret behind these tragic events?

I listened to the audiobook autobiography of Slave by Mende Nazer several years ago now, but the horror of her existence as a modern-day slave has remained strongly in my memory. In Razia Abda Khan managed to evoke the same emotions from me. This novel is a compelling thriller with a conscience and I was impressed that both aspects of the story complement each other, adding to its strengths overall. I never felt as though I was being lectured about slavery or that the thrilling narrative detracted from the seriousness of its subject. Yet, when I finished reading Razia, I had been educationed and entertained, and inspired to find out more about this issue on the real world. It's a cleverly balanced novel with powerful sense of authenticity.

Razia explores not only the immediate consequences of one young woman's enslavement, but also the social and patriarchal systems which allow the practice to be depressingly common. I liked how Khan contrasts London with Lahore and Islamabad and it was interesting to see how London lawyer Farah found herself so disoriented by the realities of such a different culture. I loved Farah! She always felt genuine as a character and I understood the motivation of even her most impetuous actions. Her back story of the pressures of being thirty and Not Yet Married was a great lighter foil to the main storyline and also provided a good focus onto the differences between Farah and Razia, their expectations and opportunities.

I was suprised by just how much I enjoyed and appreciated this novel and would happily recommend it to a wide readership across fans of literary fiction, Asian fiction and thrillers.

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  1. This sounds like a really suspenseful read. I think I'd like it.