A darkly comic, boundary-pushing debut following an adrift Pakistani translator in London who attends a mysterious language school which boasts complete fluency in just ten days, but at a secret, sinister cost.
'Absolutely stunning . . . thrilling and unique' - GILLIAN FLYNN
'Creepy, provocative and wildly entertaining' - EMMA STONEX
'A banger!' - CHELSEA G SUMMERS
'Fantastic . . . compelling . . . wonderful' - THE OBSERVER
Welcome to The Centre. You'll never be the same . . .
Anisa Ellahi spends her days writing subtitles for Bollywood films in her London flat, all the while longing to be a translator of ‘great works of literature’. Her boyfriend Adam’s extraordinary aptitude for languages only makes her feel worse, but when Adam learns to speak Urdu practically overnight, Anisa forces him to reveal his secret.
Adam tells Anisa about the Centre, an elite, invite-only programme that guarantees total fluency in any language in just ten days. Sceptical but intrigued, Anisa enrols. Stripped of her belongings and contact with the outside world, she undergoes the Centre’s strange and rigorous processes. But as she enmeshes herself further within the organization, seduced by all that it’s made possible, she soon realizes the disturbing, hidden cost of its services.
By turns dark, funny and surreal, The Centre takes the reader on a journey through Karachi, London and New Delhi, interrogating the sticky politics of language, translation and appropriation with biting specificity, and ultimately asking: what price would you be willing to pay for success?
A remarkable debut from Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi, announcing the arrival of an extraordinary new talent.
Fantastic . . . This Black Mirror take on the world of language opens up questions of cultural appropriation, the power of language, memory and privilege . . . Siddiqi’s easy storytelling and her heroine Anisa’s sweet narrative voice slip down like summer rosé. Siddiqi has the gift of maintaining propulsion and mystery, while keeping things human and realistic . . . compelling . . . wonderful * The Observer *
An absolutely stunning and unique novel . . . A book that is not only thrilling but deeply thought provoking, a combination that is truly rare -- Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl
Siddiqi . . . has the gift of maintaining propulsion and mystery, while keeping things human and realistic . . . a wonderful novel -- Bidisha Mamata * The Guardian *
Creepy, provocative and wildly entertaining . . . I was gripped -- Emma Stonex, author of The Lamplighters
Ingenious . . . This is a book whose many delights and horrors are unlikely to be lost in translation * New York Times *
The Centre is a banger! . . . A book that feels both cheery and terrifying, The Centre draws you in with a gentle hand until it throws the mallet down in the last thirty pages. A terrific meditation on language, diaspora, alienation, and culture, it will stay with you long after you read -- Chelsea G Summers, author of A Certain Hunger
Propulsive and profound.I was gripped by the mystery haunting the core of the book — and equally gripped by Siddiqi’s exploration of the power of language . . . a debut of dazzling wit and insight -- Helen Phillips, author of The Need
A twisting mystery and nuanced exploration of identity and assimilation, The Centre cuts deep . . . A compelling, witty, sometimes gruesome tale of how we use language to connect and to sever, appropriate and explore -- Julia Fine, author of Maddalena and the Dark and The Upstairs House
I am obsessed with this book and you will be too! A brilliant meditation on language and translation and the most gripping novel I've read in forever . . . I'm in awe -- Jennifer Croft, author of Homesick
As haunting as it is tempting; this book devoured me back -- Sarah Gailey, author of Just Like Home and Eat the Rich
A gripping, surreal mystery about language, identity, and greed. The Centre explores impossible success at an equally impossible price—and the difference between merely paying for something and truly understanding its dark cost -- Peng Shepherd, bestselling author of The Cartographers
The most fascinating debut I've read in years—enigmatic, biting, absurd, and right when you think you've got it figured out, utterly horrifying -- Daniel Kraus, New York Times bestselling author of The Shape of Water (with Guillermo del Toro)
Incredible . . . it's creepy AF, in the best way possible. Highly recommend! -- Lamya H, author of Hijab Butch Blues
Filled with astute insights into life as a brown person in a predominantly white country . . . A fast-paced thriller with its finger firmly on the pulse of contemporary social discourse * Kirkus *
Manazir Siddiqi’s ambitious debut packs insightful observations about racism, classism, and colonialism into a dark mystery . . . a writer to watch * Publishers Weekly *
[An] inventive debut... The Centre informs the current social discourse by offering wry, shrewd insights into colonialism, appropriation and classism, resonant of Elaine Hsieh Chou’s Disorientation and RF Kuang’s Yellowface -- Rabeea Saleem, The Irish Times
Truly fascinating . . . a dialogue-rich drama with comic undertones and a creepy thriller nestled within * Shelf Awareness *
Dimensions: 226mm x 144mm x 34mm