“I'd be interested to read it,” my friend said with just a hint of déjà vu in his voice, “although by the sound of things it is going to go over subjects and themes which have been written about and filmed many times over… you know, Bangladeshi and Western lives in the East end of London, misunderstanding, cultural clashes, multiculturalism blah, blah, blah”. And for the record, this was a fellow British Muslim speaking.
Being brutally honest, there was a tiny part of me which felt this way before I began reading Rabina Khan's warm and surprisingly direct book. In some ways such reactions are a measure of the extent to which these critically important issues and relationships have been written and presented in a stereotypical fashion.
Depictions of the stories; Bangladeshi generations learning to restart their lives in the East of London, the difficulties, failures and sheer power of spirit in which families have adapted themselves, their culture and identity, has for the most part been dwelled on in obvious themes, with inevitable outcomes. The gutsy young man / woman who overcomes the strictures and bigotry of his / her family, escapes and joins the far better
western lifestyle. Or there is the Romeo & Juliet model; Muslim Asian boy / girl meets British boy / girl, love blooms across the religious and racial divide but bigotry destroys true love or, eventually everyone lives happily ever after.
Ayesha's Rainbow's strength is that it written by someone who has lived, worked and tried to understand her community, its problems and failures from a position of wanting to understand it with empathy.
| "I read Ayesha's Rainbow in virtually one sitting which shows how gripped I was by the characters and their situation. It is a simple story of friendship and how it can overcome deep-seated prejudices on both sides of the community. Part moving, part shocking, I would recommend this book to young people, whatever their background, to show what happens when hate gets out of control but we have to remember that, like the rainbow of the title, good can come out of tragedy."
|Malik Al Nasir, Fore-Word's chief executive said "Rabina's new novel 'Ayesha's Rainbow' though a work of fiction, resonates true with the controversial subject matter that Rabina addresses. Set in Tower Hamlets in the East End of London during times of racial tension a little Asian girl befriends the mother of neo fascist living next door and a whole plethora of intrigue, plots and tragedy ensues. Racism, deceit, trauma and a glimmer of hope are among the elements portrayed in a masterful and potent work, which will challenge both British and Asian readers to take a long hard look at themselves in the new millennium".