Novel of the week: Somebody Loves You by Mona Arshi


Mona Arshi’s first award-winning collection of poems, Small hands (2015), was striking for its crisp phrasing and sultry descriptions of nature, Cal Revely-Calder said in The daily telegraph.

The same virtues are present in her first novel “prismatically magnificent” – narrated by a British Pakistani girl from London who becomes a selective mute. Rose stops speaking in elementary school one day, and remains silent for years – resisting “many requests from adults.” Taking place in short chapters resembling vignettes, Someone likes You is a “fluid construction and deconstruction of words”.

Through Rose, we understand that her renunciation of speaking is an “attempt to come out of a world incapable of engaging with what she has to say”, declared Stéphanie Sy-Quia in The Guardian.

She and her sister are “racialized” – neighbors call them “little brown girls” – and her mother suffers from a mental illness that is not fully recognized in the family. “Use your voice” is a common feminist warning – but this subtle novel raises the alternate possibility that silence could be a “subversive act of caring.”

And other stories 176pp £ 11.99; Bookstore of the week £ 9.99

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