The Centre

The Centre

Fiction & Poetry, Modern & Contemporary Fiction
Hardback Published on: 06/07/2023
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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: 426g
  • Dimensions: 223 x 144 x 33 mm

Customer Reviews

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The Centre
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 star... READ MORE
The Centre
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 one... READ MORE
Daria - Bookshop Manager
The Centre
Deliciously addictive slow-burn
Anisa feels unfulfilled by her job, being a subtitle translator for Bollywood movies and dreams of being a translator of "great" literature. She starts a r... READ MORE
Anna Crysel
The Centre
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 pos... READ MORE
Lucy Williams
The Centre
A thought-provoking read!
‘The Centre’ by Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi follows Anisa, a Pakistani translator who is offered what seems like a too-good-to-be-true opportunity to become flu... READ MORE
The Centre
Intriguing and very readable
The Centre is a book with a very intriguing premise – an elite place simply called ‘The Centre’ where residents can learn a language fluently in 2 weeks. F... READ MORE
Laura Nazmdeh
The Centre
Compelling narrative with a chilling twist
I was completely captivated by Anisa's story! I found her narrative was believable and that the story developed well and at a quick pace to keep me interes... READ MORE
Books and Tea Make Me Happy
The Centre
Skin crawlingly brilliant debut
Sinisterly surreal with a wink of satire, this is a book that will burrow into your brain, colouring every conversation you have about language, privilege,... READ MORE
Hannah Prutton
The Centre
A black-mirroresque look at intensive learning, and the price you pay
Anisa dates a guy who introduces her to The Centre, a language learning centre which allows you to learn a language fluently within 10 days. As a translat... READ MORE
Georgie M
The Centre
A unique and unusual genre defying novel
“It all began with Adam. Doesn’t it always? We met at a literary translation studies conference at Senate House, and it was through him that I first learne... READ MORE
Vivienne O'Regan
The Centre
Debut of the year
Arguably, the debut of the year. Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi’s extraordinary novel about language, translation, and cultural/personal appropriation demands your... READ MORE
Christopher Deeks