“A glorious novel about a forgotten place and a part of our history that we hardly ever talk about”
– Mohammed Hanif
Pakistani author Uzma Aslam Khan’s new novel, The Miraculous True Story of Nomi Ali is a historical novel set in the Andamans about the Japanese occupation of the islands—a hugely underexplored part of Indian history.
Nomi and Zee are Local Borns—their father a convict condemned by the British to the Andaman Islands, their mother shipped off with him. The islands are an inhospitable place, despite their surreal beauty. In this unreliable world, the children have their friend Aye, the pet hen Priya and the distracted love of their parents to shore them up from one day to the next. Meanwhile, within the walls of the prison, Prisoner 218 D wages a war on her jailers with only her body and her memory.
When war descends upon this overlooked outpost of Empire, the British are forced out and the Japanese move in. Soon the first shot is fired and Zee is forced to flee, leaving Nomi and the other islanders to contend with a new malice. The islands—and the seas surrounding them—become a battlefield, resulting in tragedy for some and a brittle kind of freedom for others.
Ambitiously imagined and hauntingly alive, The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali writes into being the interwoven stories of people caught in the vortex of history, powerless yet with powers of their own: of bravery and wonder, empathy and endurance. Uzma Aslam Khan’s extraordinary new novel is an unflinching and intense page-turner, an epic telling of a largely forgotten chapter in the history of the subcontinent.
Uzma Aslam Khan is the author of four previous novels, translated worldwide to critical acclaim. These include Trespassing, nominated for a Commonwealth Prize in 2003; The Geometry of God, a Kirkus Review’s Best Books of 2009 and winner of the Bronze award at the Independent Book Publishers Awards; and Thinner Than Skin, longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and winner of the French Prize for Best Fiction at the Karachi Literature Festival 2014.
Her work has appeared in Granta, The Massachusetts Review, The Guardian, Counterpunch, Dawn, Herald, among other anthologies and journals, national and international.
Born and raised in Pakistan, Khan has lived in many locations across the globe, including England, Japan, Philippines and Oceania. She currently resides in the United States.
Pub date: 25 April 2019 | Imprint: Context | Price: INR 699