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This Green and Pleasant Land: 'The standout book of the year' Abir Mukherjee
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This Green and Pleasant Land: 'The standout book of the year' Abir Mukherjee (Hardback)

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The standout new novel by acclaimed author Ayisha Malik - perfect for fans of The Casual Vacancy, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Middle England.

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.

* * *

'A novel that touches our capacity for human sympathy and connection in important ways' - The Times

'An inquiry into faith, identity and the meaning of home' - Guardian

'This Green and Pleasant Land is a clever and thoughtful novel about identity and belonging . . . the perfect novel for these Brexit-y times that we're living in' - Red Magazine

'Exploring identity, belonging and divided loyalties between familial obligation and national identity, this is a prescient novel in our uncertain Brexit times' - Cosmopolitan

'This Green and Pleasant Land, a novel that simmers with tenderness, is a deeply relevant book that isbound to ruffle a fair few feathers, but the right feathers, and for the right reasons' - Caroline O'Donoghue

'At the heart of this book lies the simple question: who decides to who and what we belong? This is Malik's best work to date - satirical, controversial, knowing and essential' - Vaseem Khan

'Wish I could prescribe it to the country' - Daisy Buchanan

'Thoughtful, funny, excellently written and deserves to be read by everyone . . . it's the standout book of the year' - Abir Mukherjee

Fiction & PoetryModern & contemporary fiction post c 1945Philosophy, Psychology & Social SciencesReligion & BeliefsIslamIslamic life & practiceReligion & BeliefsReligion: generalReligious issues & debates Publisher: Zaffre Publishing Publication Date: 13/06/2019 ISBN-13: 9781785767548  Details: Type: Hardback Format: Books
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Ayisha Malik is a writer and editor, living in South London. She holds a BA in English Literature and a First Class MA in Creative Writing. Her novels Sofia Khan is Not Obliged and The Other Half of Happiness, starring 'the Muslim Bridget Jones', were met with great critical acclaim, and Sofia Khan is Not Obliged was chosen as 2019's Cityread book. Ayisha was a WHSmith Fresh Talent Pick, shortlisted for the Asian Women of Achievement Award and Marie Claire's Future Shapers Awards. Ayisha is also the ghost writer for The Great British Bake Off winner, Nadiya Hussain.

More books by Ayisha Malik

Customer Reviews

This Green and Pleasant Land tells the story of Bilal and his wife Mariam, both second generation Brits, whose parents immigrated from Pakistan. When Bilal's mother dies, her final request is that Bilal build a mosque in the sleepy southern village he moved away from Birmingham to start a new life in. As Bill faces the question of what it means to belong, he comes face to face with years of doubts and fears he has never addressed, and as he moves forward with the mosque he will have to face more than just his insubstantial fears. This book is brilliantly written, using humour and amazingly depicted cultural scenes to talk about some very important current issues. The tone and setting are spot on – as a foreign-born British citizen who has lived here for the past 15 years, I recognise every detail of the village and people Malik describes, and see myself in many of them. The subtle cultural humour had me laughing and cringing accordingly. The way she pinpoints British nuances and subtleties in simple and recognisable ways is astounding and brilliant. The passages from Shelley's perspective particularly had me laughing at almost every understated line. Although I don't know much about Pakistani culture, I could tell that she wrote about it with the same cuttingly accurate subtlety and affectionate humour. I love the way that this book makes you think and examine your own views as you read. There are so many challenging passages. The reaction of the town to Bilal's proposal is both understandable and shameful. Yet, when I look at the words without bias I recognise some of the same thought-processes and hypocrisies exhibited by Shelley, Copperthwaite and co. in myself. I loved the gentle challenge that this book provides to look at yourself without fear, and to recognise that change is possible, no matter how old or set in your ways you are. Both Shelley and Khala Rukhsana are beautiful examples of that. I am also in love with the way that Malik gets across what I believe to be the biggest overlooked principle of today, which might just have to power to save us all if we could uphold it – You don't have to share someone's beliefs or lifestyle in order to love them, respect them, honour them and help them to share equal freedoms and rights with you. Reverend Richard Young and Bilal's strong friendship was one of my favourite sub-plots of the book. They are both just men, whose religious beliefs don't have to alter their regard for each other or the lengths they will go to in order to support each other. As an Anglican myself I was so impressed and appreciative of Richards character and stance in this book. He isn't threatened by the chance for Muslims to have their own place of worship in his village, because they deserve a sacred space just as much as the Christians do. I will admit that it took me some time to get into this novel, but once I made it 50 or 60 pages in I was hooked, and by the end I really didn't want the story to end. The characters and setting are so familiar and if not always lovable, at least understandable. Highly recommended, especially for those who wish to examine what they think about national identity, inclusive culture, and what it means to follow your convictions in life. 5 Stars!

- 16/06/2019
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A novel about what is it to be part of a community This is a tale about a quintessential English village and the relationships therein. The story centres around Bilal and Mariam Hasham who have been residents of Babbel’s End for eight years, they are involved with the community - Mariam writes for the local paper, Bilal has an accountancy firm which employs locals and he is a member of the parish council. When Bilal’s mother dies, she makes a request on her deathbed that he build a mosque in Babbel’s End. This request sits uneasy with Bilal for some time until he makes the decision to go ahead with the idea. He presents the idea at a council meeting and suddenly the major concerns of the villagers about overgrown bushes obstructing roadways pale into insignificance. This is a novel about tolerance and the intolerance of others; and about our relationships with family, friends, neighbours, colleagues, in fact with everyone. We see though various relationships, how people don’t like change and are quick to rally against the unknown; things always seem to be greener on the other side of the fence, as humans we are prone to thinking ‘what if?’. It also illustrates how opposing sides can unite when both their desired outcomes are threatened, and how the acts of one person can change things (for the better, not just for the worse). I don’t want to write too much more about the story, as I don’t want to spoil it. This is the first book by Ayisha Malik that I have read, it won’t be the last.

- 13/06/2019
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On a superficial level The Green and Pleasant Land is Ayisha Malik’s riotously funny exploration of twenty-first century Britain, what it means to be British and what makes a place our home. But at root it is so much more that a simple feel-good read and what makes it shine is the stories unexpected depth, for it is also a sensitive, thought-provoking and unforgettable look at grief, faith, identity and culture. When the questions aren’t just theoretical, actions really do speak louder than words for the citizens of Babbel’s End and when the idea of building a mosque is proposed it proves a stretch too far for some villagers and controversy ensues.. An acutely perceptive, sensitively observed and ultimately tender exploration of prejudice and integration in twenty-first century Britain and a memorable drama of unexpected depth in an ever changing world. The denouement comes together in a credible way, without feeling like an attempt to “play nice”, paper over the differences in opinion or dodge the issues and is impressively managed. Guaranteed to test every reader’s preconceptions and simultaneously provide a comprehensive and relatable introduction into the Muslim faith.

- 02/06/2019
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