Roopa Farooki is one of the Orange Longlisted authors most familiar to me. I very much enjoyed her debut novel, Bitter Sweets which saw her nominated for the Orange new writers prize, and I absolutely loved The way things look to me, which was Orange longlisted either last year or the year before. Farooki specialises in writing about families in multi-cultural settings - her debut was about a man who was conned into his arranged marriage believing that his wife was more educated than she was, The way things look to me is about three siblings struggling in the wake of the death of their parents. It seems that she has had two more novels which I have somehow missed Corner Shop and Half Life, so once Orange season is over, it might be a good time to explore these.
This book tells the story of Malik. Again, it's a story of people and families. We meet Malik at the end of his life, we learn that he is dying, and we learn that he seems to be somewhat of a chancer and unpredictable character. The story is fleshed out through the rest of the novel in an extended flashback, which chapter by chapter deals with different times in his life, from his birth in 1931, where he was the only one of a pair of twins to survive the birth, through his school years and establishment of his ABC literary club, his deception of his second wife into pregnancy, time in prison and so on. It's episodic so at times one would like more of the in between times to be spelled out, but it's a good way of creating a picture of Malik and his life and how he has reached the point at which we are introduced to him.
And why the title? Well, Malik is a man who spends his life making "flying escapes". He continually plays games with his wives, his family, his business associates, and inevitably seems to come out on top, although towards the end it all starts to catch up with him.
I enjoyed this novel fairly so, but if you've not read Farooki before then I would recommend that you start with Bitter Sweets or The way things look to me since I found them more attention grabbing.
The Coast of Bohemia – Edith Pargeter
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