Our ReviewsThe Centre by Ayesha Manazir Siddiai

The Centre by Ayesha Manazir Siddiai


Have you ever known you would enjoy a book from the first few lines?

I barked with laughter at the opening seven words of The Centre, the dry wit of the narrator becoming immediately apparent & I knew I was in for a treat – swipe to read. Published a few weeks ago, I read my proof copy yesterday, compelled to pick it up after seeing it featured in @sarahjessicaparkersummer reading list.

This debut starts of innocuously, there are moments of foreshadowing that build up but lord I did not anticipate the reveal. Anisa is a listless Pakistani translator in London translating Bollywood movies, who talks us through her underwhelming relationship with her English boyfriend.

He introduces her to an organisation called the Centre. Cult-like and secretive, the Centre puts translators through an immersive process that makes them idiomatically fluent in any language. 

Things get weird, think Sayaka Murata twisted. What set this apart for me was the sardonic and caustic humour of Anisa & her ability to observe & comment on the world, the racism, misogyny, disparity in wealth & dominance over others (human & animal) she sees. 

There are also passages that are reminiscent of Babel, exploring the root of language, the act of translation & immutable meaning underneath words, the appropriation & exploitation of culture which added a contemplative element. 

As the plot twists & turns, I was still hooked but I definitely wanted more from the final pages where things ramped up, which felt rushed by the end. 

This was a funny, philosophical, oddity of a book & I enjoyed it thoroughly – C

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