Book review: The Inside City

By Anita Mir
Published by Unbound Digital

Synopsis: As India hurtles towards Partition, in Lahore's ancient inside city, Amrau Dar is not thinking about politics. She is waiting for a prediction about her son, Awais, to come true. Awais discovers not a secret garden but a secret city and his beloved sister, Maryam, discovers the world of maths. Fearing that the prediction has gone wrong, Amrau takes a series of decisions that will change all their lives.

How did this book end up in my hands? I followed its serialisation as it appeared on The Pigeonhole.

Was it a page-turner? Every day for ten days I received an instalment of the book in my inbox and I dutifully read it. I didn’t have a problem keeping up with the schedule but I must admit that I struggled with the novel itself and – were it not for references to a culture I am extremely intrigued by – this might have been a DNF for me.

Did the book meet my expectations? At one point, a character in the book said ‘Mitoo, I don’t understand a word you’ve just told me.’ and I could totally empathise with the feeling. I struggled to get into the book as the narrative made huge jumps in the time and introduced too many characters that came and went too quickly. I did get attached to some characters, like Maryam, and enjoyed several strands of the narrative but, ultimately, I don’t think it was entirely for me. 

Three words to describe it. Historical. Unusual. Evocative.

Do I like the cover? Yes, it’s beautiful. As evocative of the geographical setting of the novel as the words themselves.

Have I read any other books by the same author? I might be mistaken but I believe that this is the author’s first full-length novel. Despite my lukewarm reception of The Inside City, I would definitely read her next work. Maybe, with this novel, I just wasn’t in the right place at the right time.

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