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Six Metres of Pavement Paperback – 18 Apr 2012
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About the Author
Farzana Doctor is a Toronto-based writer whose work has been published in Siren Magazine, Trikone, Sightlines 7 Anthology and Aurat Durbar. She has also had chapters, reviews and articles published in edited books and journals, has co-written a manual for therapists, co-written plays and co-produced a documentary video. She is a social worker, educator and consultant as well.
Her first novel, Stealing Nasreen, received many accolades and was shortlisted for the Masala! Mehndi! Masti! Readers Choice Award. It was also named one of the Top Ten Books of 2011 by NOW magazine.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
What I most enjoyed about my first reading was the insightful, well-crafted and compassionate telling of the main characters. We get to see the world through their eyes, but we're never told how to feel about them - only how they feel about themselves and others. Between how well the characters are drawn and how they've stayed with me in the week since I finished reading, I've given the book five stars.
I also enjoyed the author's writing style, which I found to be a lovely balance of spare and lyrical. The ending left me feeling both satisfied and unsatisfied, perhaps just because I expected something different but found an end that I hoped for.
Ismail is originally from India, in his early fifties and works for the City of Toronto as an engineer. Twenty years ago, he made a mistake that changed his life forever ... he'd forgotten to drop his young daughter off at daycare and had left her in her car seat in his car and she died in the heat. Within a year, his marriage was over and Ismail consoled himself over the years with too much drinking in his local pub.
Celia is a Portuguese Canadian and was almost fifty. Within a couple weeks, her husband and mother passed away, she lost her home due to her husband's debts and she was forced to move in with her daughter and her daughter's family. She spends her time dressed in widow black, taking care of her young grandson, sleeping and looking out the window, watching Ismail, who is also watching her. A couple years pass and they eventually started to talk and start to find in each other the happiness they had given up on.
In the meantime, Ismail meets Fatima, a 20-year-old Indian whose parents kick her out when they discover she is gay, and they become friends.
This is the first book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it. It is written in third person perspective with a focus mainly shifting between Ismail and Celia. I liked the writing style and found myself caught up in the story and the characters. I liked the main characters, Ismail, Celia and Fatima.
I liked that there were non-traditional elements (an older Indian guy dating an older Portuguese widow and befriending a younger woman who likes other women). It was interesting to read how the author handled the unlikely friendships, acceptance and forgiveness, and moving forward to finding out who they were today, given the events of the past.
The story is set in Toronto ... Ismail and Celia "live" just northwest of me (maybe 10 minute drive) in the Lansdowne Avenue/Dundas Avenue W area. They shop where I shop in our 'hood ... at the Dufferin Mall, the No Frills at Lansdowne Avenue/Dundas Street W, the liquor store on Brock Street, etc.
I would recommend this book.
I wish there were more than 40 points available. This one so surpassed the others in all areas. Truly wonderful.