Mark Speed's Reviews > Companions of Clay

Companions of Clay by Safeena Chaudhry
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Jul 16, 2014

it was amazing
bookshelves: contemporary-literature, magical-realism, religious-theme

An extraordinary, captivating and brave novel.

This is the story of a British Muslim man who's in a coma, dreaming of his estranged from his family, who in turn are estranged from their abusive father.

What makes this story so gripping and powerful is that the author has chosen to tackle some extremely difficult themes - and she certainly doesn't pull any punches. First, she's chosen a protagonist who is not just a gay Muslim, but who has worked as a prostitute. Second, she's chosen to explore what it's like to be a British Muslim growing up in secular London whilst trying to adhere to cultural and religious norms - reality versus expectations. Her description of marital breakdown and its immediate aftermath in this context is probably going to be an eye-opener for some sections of society - both Muslim and non-Muslim. The conversations between characters are frank, shocking and witty, and the descriptions of contemporary behaviour in London are gritty and brutally honest (be prepared for some quite graphic scenes).

You can feel the relentless struggle and pressure for a British Muslim to find a balance between being British and maintaining a Muslim identity - particularly when the actions of an almost insignificant minority threaten to cause a violent backlash against an innocent community as characters respond to real-life events.

By weaving harsh reality with dream sequences, the author has sewn an exceptionally good story. This unique work took a great deal of courage to write, and even more to publish. It richly deserves literary recognition and a place on your reading list.
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Reading Progress

July 16, 2014 – Started Reading
July 16, 2014 – Shelved
July 23, 2014 – Finished Reading
July 30, 2014 – Shelved as: contemporary-literature
July 30, 2014 – Shelved as: magical-realism
July 30, 2014 – Shelved as: religious-theme

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy "This unique work took a great deal of courage to write, and even more to publish. It richly deserves literary recognition and a place on your reading list."

There are so many stories that need to be told, and this sounds like one of them. Where did you even find it? It has such an unassuming cover and title ... like it wants to be unseen.

It's interesting how religion, culture, and reality collide some times when they are in opposition to each other.

This sounds like a must-read.


Mark Speed The author sat next to me at a novel-marketing seminar last month. She'd just published it so I bought it and read it. I was so impressed I had to evangelise about it.

You're right: some stories do have to be told. I love the mix of religious mythology and contemporary London. She deserves so much success with this novel.


message 3: by Amy (new) - added it

Amy Mark wrote: "The author sat next to me at a novel-marketing seminar last month. She'd just published it so I bought it and read it. I was so impressed I had to evangelise about it.

You're right: some stories d..."


Well, I've bought it and will probably read it fairly soon, so your evangelization worked.


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