The Exiles

The Exiles - Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla I’ll be frank and tell you guys that I was quite apprehensive about picking up this book. It is mainly because I have very little experience with LGBT literature. Oh of course I have read fiction novels where a supporting character was Gay or Lesbian, but never the protagonist. But so far my short experience in book blogging community has taught me to pick up new things with an open mind so as to enjoy and explore wider genres. So I agreed and man, am I glad now that I picked this one up!

The story explores mainly the life and journey of its protagonists – Pooja, Rahul and Atif. Rahul and Pooja hail from Kenya and they have a certain shared past before settling in L.A. The story begins at a point where Rahul is a well settled banker, Pooja is a homemaker managing her catering business from her own kitchen and Ajay is a typical teenager who is into gym and clubbing. While the disappearing sizzle of Rahul and Pooja’s marital life has left Pooja a bit confused and lonely, Rahul on the other hand finds solace in Atif, an immigrant from Mumbai.

Unlike my usual taste for exploring the characters of a story first, I would like to talk about the plot first. This is undoubtedly one of the best plotline that I have come across in recent times. Don’t get me wrong, it is not as complex as Da Vinci Code or as action packed as Bourne series or as mysterious as Sherlock Holmes novels. It is pretty simple and straightforward. But the different aspects of a common people’s lives covered that gives this novel an exotic feel. For instance, a person struggling to find their true identity, or a person finally embracing his own sexuality, or a person’s individual take on religion… The author managed to capture the different cultures and interlink them. The love scenes do not include any vulgarity but pure love and passion pours out of those pages. Human nature and raw emotions have been captured in a beautiful manner. There’s a hint of everything in this page turner – drama, romance, deception and honesty.

Now, a plot like that needs strong characters that can do justice to it. And indeed, our protagonists play their roles to perfection. While Rahul plays the most dominant role and is the link to Pooja, and Atif, these other two people play as important an important role too. Rahul’s past shaped him up and Pooja has been a true companion to him, but its Atif’s influence that finally brought Rahul’s character to its epitome. Atif’s brings in with him his own experiences, his status of an illegal immigrant and his involvement with Rahul takes him to a place where as a reader I was on a roller coaster ride. At the same time, Pooja by no fault of her own, is lonely and her life is difficult on a totally different level. Then there is Greg – whose religious beliefs seem to be distancing him from his family. There’s also Pooja’s gossipy neighbor Sonali and a few other minor characters. Each true to life and easy to relate to.

Everything is brought together with great attention to detail and careful prose in order to make this book what it is – A Must Read!