Everyone has a place they call home. But who gets to decide where you belong?
For years Bilal Hasham and his wife Mariam have lived contented, quiet lives in the sleepy rural village of Babbel’s End. Now all that is about to change.
On her deathbed, Bilal’s mother reaches for his hand. Instead of whispering her final prayers, she gives him a task: build a mosque in his country village.
Mariam is horrified by Bilal’s plan. His friends and neighbours are unnerved. As outrage sweeps Babbel’s End, battle lines are drawn. His mother’s dying wish reveals deeper divisions in their village than Bilal had ever imagined.
Soon Bilal is forced to choose between community and identity, between faith and friendship, between honouring his beloved mother’s last wish and preserving what is held dear in the place that he calls home.
Title : This Green and Pleasant Land
Author : Ayisha Malik
Format : eARC/ALC
Page Count : 464
Genre : Contemporary Fiction
Publisher : Zaffre
Release Date : October 1, 2020 (paperback)
Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5
Micky’s 3.5 star review
This was a poignant, real and sometimes witty story about legacy, identity, community separation and togetherness. THIS GREEN AND PLEASANT LAND centred on community and family. This was an own voices exploration of muslim main characters navigating an often stuffy English village life. It was enjoyable and kept my attention most of the time.
Bilal and his family were navigating a recent bereavement, deathbed promises and guilt built on top of that legacy. Bilal decided that this promise to build a mosque in his little patch of England would be followed through and the journey to seeing this to fruition was the meat of this story. The characters around Bilal, his family, his community connections were witty and rich, full of prejudice and yet sometimes supportive. These characters were an eclectic mix and some were just plain eccentric.
What engaged me most was the laughs it brought to me as I identified with the struggles that Bilal had with the people around him and just how hard this goal would be to achieve. The descriptions and dialogue were rich and vibrant. The story gentle wove the familial and community philosophies, prejudices and politics into everyday life; just as it really is. An enjoyable read.
I had a eARC and audio review copy and so I did a combination read of both. The narration was good throughout and captured the nuances of the characters and dialogue, so I would recommend both formats.
Thank you to Compulsive Readers Tours and Zaffre for the early review copies.