A Small Fortune
ISBN 9781101585696 | 384 pages | 24 May 2012 | Riverhead | 18 - AND UP
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A smart debut novel that explores the complexities of cultural differences, family loyalties, and what is lost in translation.
Harris, the patriarch of his large extended family in both England and Pakistan, has unexpectedly received a “small fortune” from his divorce settlement with an English woman. As a devout Muslim, Harris views this sum as a “burden of riches” that he must unload on someone else as quickly as possible. But deciding which relative to give it to proves to be a burden of its own, and soon he has promised it both to his extremely poor cousins in Pakistan and to his Westernized, college student daughter. In a rash bout of guilt and misunderstanding, Harris signs the entire sum away to the least deserving, most prosperous cousin of all, exacerbating a tricky web of familial debt and obligation on two sides of the world.
With insight, affection, and a great gift for character and story, Rosie Dastgir immerses us in a rich, beautifully drawn immigrant community and a complex extended family. She considers the challenges between relatives of different cultural backgrounds, generations, and experiences—and the things they have to teach one another. A Small Fortune offers an affecting look at class, culture, and the heartbreak of misinterpretation.
“In her debut novel, Rosie Dastgir weaves a vivid and delightful saga about an extended family of Pakistani immigrants. . . . [A Small Fortune] is funny, poignant, true and sad, and I was enthralled.”—The Minneapolis Star Tribune
"But the beauty in Dastgir's novel, and the reason you won't be able to put it down, is her ability to get to the heart of the immigrant struggle."—Bust
"A tweedy Pakistani divorcé and his alarmingly self-possessed daughter are tested by an unexpected windfall."—Vogue
"This charming debut offers rich insights into the complexities of immigrant life in England. . . . This charming debut offers rich insights into the complexities of immigrant life in England."—Library Journal
"Among the strengths of [her] writing are the naturalistic flow of her dialogue and her ear for the Yorkshire lilt. Her screenwriting flair also shines through in the deft jump-cuts between Lahore, Whitechapel and Yorkshire, and the arresting images of London's urban decay. . . . Particularly perceptive about first-generation immigrants’ preoccupations with minute class signifiers.”—Times Literary Supplement
“In Dastgir’s delicious debut novel, a clan of Pakistani immigrants navigates the treacherous territory between two cultures in an England of curry puddles, cunning imams, and failing convenience stores. Funny, compassionate and vivid with detail.”—Nayana Currimbhoy, author of Miss Timmins’ School for Girls
“Assimilation and self-interest are the competing themes in this wickedly witty, deeply moving novel. Yet it’s humanity in all its well-intentioned ineptitude that forms the real theme here—and for which Rosie Dastgir saves her choicest prose. A whole, complex world is on display here. I couldn’t put it down.”—Lucinda Rosenfeld, author of I’m So Happy For You and (forthcoming) The Pretty One
“Beautiful, intelligent and poignant. With honesty and insight, Rosie Dastgir reveals the triumphs and tragedies—not only when East meets West—but when any of us attempt to forge our own identity beneath the weight of history, culture and that most terrifying obstacle of all—family.”— Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, author of When Skateboards Will Be Free
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