The World Unseen Paperback – 7 Jun 2004
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'An impressive debut. [Sarif's] story brings together the descriptive power of the novelist with the screenwriter's mastery of dialogue: a overarching vision of a community shackled by race and gender, which also registers the small shocks and struggles of two women at its centre' The Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'In the tradition of Vikram Seth, Sarif throws down a literary gauntlet that few writers will be able to pick up'
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Meanwhile, fiercely independent Amina is determined to break with tradition and not marry for the sake of her family's name. She runs her own businesses with a gentle and wise Coloured man, Jacob, and often clashes with the local police. When Miriam and Amina's paths cross in the gossip-ridden and scandal prone Indian community of Pretoria, events are set in motion that will put Miriam on a path of personal awakening that leads to an eventual confrontation with her dogmatic husband.
Shamim Sarif, born in the UK, and of South African decent, won the Betty Trask Award and Pendleton May First Novel Award with this glowing debut. Although the book begins slowly, Sarif has proven herself adept at patiently layering a complex narrative with vivid characters and subtle plot twists. She has a rare gift of bringing alive sensuous undertones and the intricacies of body language in her narration. I was a bit puzzled by her Afrikaans characters' strange use of Ja all the time, but let's not fuss about peculiarities. Definitely a book I would recommend and an author who has convinced me to pick up an even better second book, Despite the Falling Snow
The main story is centred around the blossoming relationship of Miriam and Amina, but the other characters in the story all have complex relationships which highlight the issues of the time. What sets this book apart, for me, is the atmosphere Sarif creates. The attention to detail and beauty means that this world which I previously knew very little about, suddenly becomes completely accessible.
A wonderful story which I recommend to everyone!
The characters are seriously well written an you have a deep insight into their thoughts and perception of the world around them changing with the start of the apartheid. There's a crescendo to the whole atmosphere of the story that just keeps the reader wanting to know more of what's to follow.
I did find the ending to be a bit abrupt given the flow of the previous narrative, but the whole picture and development of the characters' emotional strength explains it rather well.
You'll enjoy reading this book.
Perhaps one of the best books ive read, Shamim Sarif is a brilliant writer and I will buying her other books and awaiting any new work.
Buy it, you wont regret it. also if you get a chance check out the film adaptation (the script was written by the authour, it was directed by the authour and her partner financed it which shows by how true to the book it is).
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I expected this story of a forbidden love in Apartheid South Africa to be more doom and gloom than light and enticing but whilst...Read more
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