The Khan – a book

The KhanThe Khan by Saima Mir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a well-told thriller with compelling characters, strong writing and a great sense of place and atmosphere. But, it runs out of steam a bit towards the end.

Perhaps the issue of concern is about the moral ambiguity of the family, and particularly the woman, at the centre of the narrative. Jia Khan is the potential heir of a powerful crime family, and the meat of the novel is based in the ethical dilemmas (familial, romantic, political, religious, cultural) around the place of this family in the world. It is unusual perspective, and Jia is an unusual protagonist, and not always a sympathetic one. In many ways the narrative is cold and distant, dissipating the tension that is sometimes present in the plot.

I loved the sense of place and culture that Mir creates – it’s a book steeped in Muslim traditions, British-Asian traditions, Pukhtun traditions, Bradford traditions, although Bradford is not specifically mentioned in the plot. The attitudes to race, ethnicity, religion and gender are satisfyingly deep and complex.


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About Stuart Smith

Live on the East Coast of Scotland with views of the Isle of May and Bass Rock out my window. Retired and giving up political activity gradually as no-one locally is interested.
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