The Centre (Hardback)
  • The Centre (Hardback)
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The Centre (Hardback)

(author)
£16.99
Hardback 320 Pages
Published: 06/07/2023
  • 10+ in stock

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Waterstones Says

Darkly comic and satirical, Siddiqi's debut novel sends a budding young translator to a mysterious language centre where fluency comes at a chilling cost.

A darkly comic, boundary-pushing debut following an adrift Pakistani translator in London who attends a mysterious language school which boasts complete fluency in just ten days, but at a secret, sinister cost.

Anisa Ellahi dreams of being a translator of 'great works of literature,' but instead mostly spends her days subtitling Bollywood movies, living off her parents' generous allowance, and discussing the 'underside of life' with her best friend, Naima.

Anisa's mediocre white boyfriend, Adam, only adds to her growing sense of inadequacy with his savant-level aptitude for languages, successfully leveraging his expansive knowledge into an enviable career. But when Adam learns to speak Urdu with native fluency practically overnight, Anisa forces him to reveal his secret.

Adam begrudgingly tells Anisa about the Centre, an elite, invite-only program that guarantees near-instant fluency in any language. Skeptical but intrigued, Anisa enrolls-stripped of her belongings and contact with the outside world-and emerges ten days later fluent in German. As Anisa enmeshes herself further within the Centre, seduced by all that it's made possible, she soon realizes the true cost of its services.

By turns dark, funny, and surreal, and with twists page-turning and shocking, The Centre takes the reader on a journey through Karachi, London, and New Delhi, interrogating the sticky politics of language, translation, and appropriation with biting specificity, and ultimately asking: what is success really worth?

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
ISBN: 9781529097825
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 426 g
Dimensions: 223 x 144 x 33 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

Fantastic . . . This Black Mirror take on the world of language opens up questions of cultural appropriation, the power of language, memory and privilege . . . Siddiqi’s easy storytelling and her heroine Anisa’s sweet narrative voice slip down like summer rosé. Siddiqi has the gift of maintaining propulsion and mystery, while keeping things human and realistic . . . compelling . . . wonderful - The Observer

An absolutely stunning and unique novel . . . A book that is not only thrilling but deeply thought provoking, a combination that is truly rare - Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl

Siddiqi . . . has the gift of maintaining propulsion and mystery, while keeping things human and realistic . . . a wonderful novel - Bidisha Mamata, The Guardian

Creepy, provocative and wildly entertaining . . . I was gripped - Emma Stonex, author of The Lamplighters

Ingenious . . . This is a book whose many delights and horrors are unlikely to be lost in translation - New York Times

The Centre is a banger! . . . A book that feels both cheery and terrifying, The Centre draws you in with a gentle hand until it throws the mallet down in the last thirty pages. A terrific meditation on language, diaspora, alienation, and culture, it will stay with you long after you read - Chelsea G Summers, author of A Certain Hunger

Propulsive and profound. I was gripped by the mystery haunting the core of the book — and equally gripped by Siddiqi’s exploration of the power of language . . . a debut of dazzling wit and insight - Helen Phillips, author of The Need

A twisting mystery and nuanced exploration of identity and assimilation, The Centre cuts deep . . . A compelling, witty, sometimes gruesome tale of how we use language to connect and to sever, appropriate and explore - Julia Fine, author of Maddalena and the Dark and The Upstairs House

I am obsessed with this book and you will be too! A brilliant meditation on language and translation and the most gripping novel I've read in forever . . . I'm in awe - Jennifer Croft, author of Homesick

As haunting as it is tempting; this book devoured me back - Sarah Gailey, author of Just Like Home and Eat the Rich

A gripping, surreal mystery about language, identity, and greed. The Centre explores impossible success at an equally impossible price—and the difference between merely paying for something and truly understanding its dark cost - Peng Shepherd, bestselling author of The Cartographers

The most fascinating debut I've read in years—enigmatic, biting, absurd, and right when you think you've got it figured out, utterly horrifying - Daniel Kraus, New York Times bestselling author of The Shape of Water (with Guillermo del Toro)

Incredible . . . it's creepy AF, in the best way possible. Highly recommend! - Lamya H, author of Hijab Butch Blues

Filled with astute insights into life as a brown person in a predominantly white country . . . A fast-paced thriller with its finger firmly on the pulse of contemporary social discourse - Kirkus

Manazir Siddiqi’s ambitious debut packs insightful observations about racism, classism, and colonialism into a dark mystery . . . a writer to watch - Publishers Weekly

[An] inventive debut... The Centre informs the current social discourse by offering wry, shrewd insights into colonialism, appropriation and classism, resonant of Elaine Hsieh Chou’s Disorientation and RF Kuang’s Yellowface - Rabeea Saleem, The Irish Times

Truly fascinating . . . a dialogue-rich drama with comic undertones and a creepy thriller nestled within - Shelf Awareness

One of the most original books published this year - Eastern Eye, Best books of 2023

The novel explores friendship, purpose, and power - New Yorker, The Best Books of 2023

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“Would have been a good short story”

When I read in the Author’s notes at the end of The Centre and saw that Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi was usually an author of short stories, a lot of things started to make sense. The Centre is an intriguing premise with a... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 7

“A very mysterious language school!”

Whoa, didn't expect this! This book was such an interesting collision of ideas. There were a lot of things I really enjoyed, and equally disliked.

The ones that I really enjoyed were: everything about the... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 6

“So, so gripping!”

Well this is thoroughly creepy and a great read!

Anisa finds herself at The Centre, signed up to become fluent in German in just 10 days - how is this possible?! She spends her days alone in a pod with just one voice... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 3

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