Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Razia by Abda Khan, described as ‘a fast-paced thriller that exposes the truth behind Britain’s darkest secret.’ That secret? Modern slavery.
- The Home Office estimates that there are currently around 13,000 slaves in the UK, though other sources suggest this is a gross underestimate
- The novel is published to coincide with World Day against Trafficking in Persons on 30 July
- It combines years of research with the pace and intrigue of a character-driven thriller
Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate and to Unbound for my review copy.
About the Book
Farah is a young 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.
We follow Farah’s daring investigations from the law courts of London to the brick kilns of Lahore, as she begins to uncover the traps that keep generation after generation enslaved. Everywhere she turns there is deep-rooted oppression and corruption, and when the authorities finally intervene, their actions have dire consequences.
Farah teams up with a human rights lawyer, Ali, and the two become close… but can she trust him; can they help Razia and others like her; and will they ever discover the explosive secret behind these tragic events?
Format: Paperback, ebook (304 pp.) Publisher: Unbound
Published: 11th July 2019 Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Find Razia on Goodreads
Farah is an interesting character. There’s a dichotomy in that she’s a successful, independent woman pursuing a career as a lawyer but nevertheless feels the need to consider an arranged marriage in order to meet the expectations of her family and cultural heritage. I have to say that some of Farah’s actions did seem a little naive at times but one couldn’t help admire her determination to help Razia.
When later in the book Farah travels to Pakistan, the author allows the reader to see, through Farah’s eyes, the vast gulf between rich and poor in that country: the rich in their swanky air-conditioned mansions; the poor toiling in the heat making bricks with no way out of poverty and debt and with limited access to education or healthcare. I also liked that the author briefly gives the reader the chance to hear directly from the otherwise ‘voiceless’ Razia even if the events she recounts are intensely troubling.
A tragic development propels Farah into a course of action that exposes her to danger at the hands of those who wield power and influence, and aren’t afraid to use it. Fortunately, Farah has local lawyer, Ali Omar, as her ally, who is more aware than she is of the lengths to which such people will go. The development of their relationship from initial distrust to – well, I’ll leave you to guess/find out – adds another dimension to the book.
I really liked the insight the book provides into Pakistani culture: food, clothing, religious practices and social customs. There are some great descriptions of meals that will probably set your stomach rumbling! I do think a glossary would be helpful for readers unfamiliar with some of the Urdu words used.
Razia is a thought-provoking book that deals with important issues such as corruption, exploitation and inequality but in an accessible way and with the feel of a mystery novel. Its unexpectedly bittersweet and poignant ending shows an author with a deft touch for creating a satisfying reading experience.
I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, Unbound, and Random Things Tours.
In three words: Thought-provoking, compelling, topical
About the Author
Abda Khan is an author and lawyer who works with victims of domestic violence. She was born in Bradford in 1969 to Pakistani immigrant parents, and she now lives and works in the West Midlands. Her first novel, Stained, was published in 2016 and described by Booklist as ‘a contemporary Tess of the d’Urbervilles’. She was Highly Commended as a finalist at the 2017 NatWest Asian Woman of Achievement Awards, in the Arts and Culture category.
Connect with Abda