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Raphael Selbourne



On the run from her family in the rough city streets of Wolverhampton, England, for refusing to stay in an arranged marriage with the 45-year-old village mullah back in Bangladesh, Beauty Begum, 19, finds prejudice, kindness, cruelty, work, and love. And duty. Winner of the 2009 Costa First Novel Award, the story uses multiple twists to blend the traditional and the contemporary with aching realism. "Who else is going to marry you?" her older brother yells. "You're ugly, dark, and dumb." She finds refuge with a white, rough dog-breeder. He knew some Asians in prison so isn't put off by her skin, but is he a hooligan? She gets work in a retirement home but is baffled by how kids can dump their parents into such places. Her neighbor—atheist, intellectual Peter—on the run from his smart girlfriend, is hooked on Internet porn, confusing Beauty further about whom to trust. The prejudice portrayed in the novel is rife: against blacks, Pakistanis, Muslims, everyone foreign, all of them seen as "perverts and thieves." Told in a stream of street patois with constantly switching viewpoints (how she sees him, how he sees her), the book seems at first to be a daunting read. But for those who go with it, the surprise comes with the realization that the changing voices are the story: hilarious, heartbreaking, and honest, always revealing new twists and turns. A compelling read right up to the astonishing end.

Format: Paperback
Published: in UK in 2009
Publisher: Tindal Street Press
Pages: 288
Language: English
ISBN 13: 9780955647673
ISBN 10: 0955647673

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