Be twice as good as men and four times as good as white men.
Jia Khan has always lived like this.
Successful London lawyer Jia Khan is a long way from the grubby Northern streets she knew as a child, where her father, Akbar Khan, led the Pakistani community and ran the local organised crime syndicate. Often his Jirga rule – the old way – was violent and bloody, but it was always justice of a kind.
Now, with her father murdered, Jia must return to take his place. The police have always relied on the Khan to maintain the fragile order of the streets. But a bloody power struggle has broken out among warring communities and nobody is safe.
Justice needs to be restored, and Jia is about to discover that justice always comes at a cost.
I had this book recommended to me and I can see why. The Khan is an utterly powerful and complex novel, a gripping tale of the criminal underworld, set in a bleak northern city where our main protagonist Jia Khan returns to a life she had fully intended to leave behind.
It is totally gripping from the start, Jia is a complicated, intuitively drawn character whose true centre becomes slowly clearer as Saima Mir unravels her layer by layer. Oft melancholy and with an underlying social sense to it, The Khan is a novel of both violence and peace, of choices made and choices taken away, set against the backdrop of a culture and community about which I knew nothing going in.
The writing is superb, the complicated relationships hugely compelling. I’m not in any way qualified to try and explain the nuances, I know only that it made me feel a range of emotions whilst caught up in it which is what I look for in my reading.
Violently vivid and unrelentingly honest, The Khan is superb and I highly recommend it.