Book Notification

Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi Books In Order

Book links take you to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate I earn money from qualifying purchases.

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi is a London-based Pakistani author of mystery books. Besides writing books, Ayesha is also an editor and translator. Her essays have been featured in prominent publications such as The Theatre Times, Independent CeaseFire Magazine, Media Diversified, Wasafiri, and the Express Tribune. Ayesha’s literary fiction works have been published online and in anthologies by Oberon Books, Peepal Trees Press, Influx Press, EMC, and Tilted Axis Press. Her plays and monologues have also rehearsed readings and staging in different venues, including Theatre 503, Rich Mix, and Tristan Bates in London.

In her debut novel, The Centre, Ayesha introduces the readers to a whole new world where language learning doesn’t end with a textbook. The wannabe polyglots in this novel are striving to recite poems and memorize verb conjugations and trying to do something more sinister.
Ayesha introduces us to Anisa, a wannabe literary translator earning meager wages by captioning Bollywood films. She is a Pakistani national and has a white fiancé, Adam, who speaks more than a dozen languages with native speakers’ fluency. Stalled and frustrated, Anisa demands to get to know Adam’s secret. Hesitant, he reveals it to her, Centre, a language-learning facility based in the English countryside that promises its student a total mastery of any language in 10 days with a price tag of 20 grand. Anisa, the daughter of a successful and prominent surgeon, doesn’t complain about the fees and immediately enrolls.

What Anisa soon finds feels like something out of a Yorgos Lanthimos movie, a well-curated environment with a large dark secret. However, it is not the skeletons in the closet that makes this novel so intriguing, but it’s what The Centre has to say about the interplay of language and identity.

Anisa was born and raised in Karachi’s upper middle class but is now based in London, where she can barely communicate in her native language. When Adam, presented as a member of London’s working class, attends lessons and learns to speak fluent Urdu at the Centre, she travels with Anisa to Pakistan to visit her parents. He is praised as a hero for speaking a nonwhite language. However, Anisa is enraged because she feels her mother tongue has been stolen from her. Later in the chapters, when the two argue about their relationship, Adams violently talks about Anisa’s middle-class trappings. At this point, the author presents us with themes such as class anxiety, cultural appropriation, and the immigrant experience. However, she does this amazingly well without diverting the readers from the main story’s captivating momentum.

When she visits the Centre, Anisa learns German and then Russian. How does she accomplish this? She also listens to an audio recording of a Storyteller speaking in the language she has been learning for hours. On the sixth day of listening, Anisa magically understands every word the storyteller speaks, and this revelation is just as confusing as it is exciting.

Learning these languages makes her acquire the requirements for her translation career, and she also develops intense affection for Shiba, the institution’s current director, and daughter of its founder. Anisa’s intense attraction to Shiba directly relates to her intention to understand the Centre’s method. However, Shiba explains to her the learning process is like Osmosis, something like a miracle. In the quest to uncover the too-good-to-be-true phenomenon, Ayesha Siddiqi has woven an intriguing story that will keep you hooked from the first page to the last.

Even though the story’s plot and mystery are intriguing enough, the thematic discussion of language, translation, colonialism, preservation, and privilege makes this novel shine brightest. The Centre is not only a celebration of translation, however; it also highlights its inherent duality. Through processing various people’s experiences in this manner, we contribute, take, and transform in ways that go beyond words. With each translation, the narrative’s minute details are altered, intentionally or unintentionally. We not only take something away from the original story but also incorporate some of its elements into our own life experiences, thereby transforming ourselves. This raises questions about the morality of the situation: who has the right to alter, interpret, and possibly understand? How does this affect our identities? You will like Siddiqi’s more satirical and contemporary storytelling take in her debut novel, The Centre.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi

Leave a Reply