“I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world” – Casablanca
It is 1998 in South London, and the events which will devastate New York three years from now are as yet unreality. But foreshocks of what is to come are already being felt – even in the lives of the highly marginal British Muslim inhabitants of Balham. However, the Malik sisters – evolutionary biologist Sufya and dramatist Zarina – have other things on their minds. In their thirties and still not married, the two sisters are about to be reunited with their long-lost childhood playmate, Heathrow – so named for the Terminal 3 concourse on which he was discovered as an abandoned toddler. Now a well-travelled, award-winning documentary film-maker, Heathrow’s heroic return is causing great anticipation in the Malik family. After all, he’s still single, and he’s even a Muslim.
As far as their long-suffering parents are concerned, it is biologist Sufya, the elder sister – the one who in Zarina’s eyes always gets first pick– who is the logical betrothed for Heathrow. But as she (to her own surprise) finds herself falling for a man approved by her family, Sufya is unaware that her younger sister has secretly loved Heathrow for years, and is no longer willing to settle for leftovers. In fact, Zarina is determined to overturn her destiny, even if it means resorting to dubious occult practices to get her man. But there is more to their enigmatic hero than either sister knows.
Eastern mystics warn that triangles are the dwelling places of djinns. What, then, might be the hidden, destructive power of a love triangle? In the black comedy of sibling rivalry, Sufi spells and suicide bombing that is to unfold, greater forces will reveal their hand. And when Heathrow disappears in mysterious circumstances, both sisters will have to unravel the mystery in a world where everything has changed…and perhaps even death is not the end.
As Clinton faces impeachment over the Lewinsky affair, and missiles begin to fall on Baghdad, can what happens between men and women really be dismissed as nothing more than “a hill of beans?”
Described by one reader as ‘The Brontes meets Four Lions,’ Undying is a story about sisterhood, betrayal and love beyond the grave.
“This is an atmospheric, intriguing and quirky novel that pulls you in right from the first page. I fell in love with Sufya and Zarina, two British Asian sisters who are “still not married”, not sure how they feel about that and, worse, what on earth they are actually going to do about it – especially once the mysterious and eligible Heathrow arrives back on the scene. It’s full of humour, passion and the kind of multi-layered portrayal of the British Muslim community that you don’t often find in fiction. It shouldn’t be possible to pull off such ambitious political scope alongside laugh-out-loud comedy, but somehow the writers do and with a light touch which is a bonus. This book is something really original, special and different.” – Viv Groskop