I was recently contacted by Zainab Khan, in order to give an honest review of her work. So here it is – my review of her latest short story (it’s out today, folks), Sanctuary.
“It’s a girl!” The whole room erupted in cheers, hugs, and loud, boisterous laughter. Yeah, those were the les gars. Or guys in English, which is the language we communicated with in the town of Sanctuary. There were so many ethnic groups, each with its own language, and one can’t learn all of the languages. While they had been beautiful and weird in their own way, they were also difficult. As for English, almost everyone knew it. A bit, anyway.
Sanctuary is a snapshot of the lives of people living in a town of the same name; but the one factor that differentiates Sanctuary from others is that its citizens come from all over the world, combining all their languages, faiths and cultures together to form an intriguingly diverse area. The amount of research that Khan has put into this story is incredible, with details and traditions that span many cultures and make the story a whole lot more realistic.
Told from a variety of different viewpoints, I initially found all the voices of each POV to be quite similar and therefore difficult to identify who was actually ‘speaking’ at any one moment, but I did eventually get the subtle differences and I could actually understand the storyline. The story itself is not a complicated one; it literally is just the telling of a period in the life of a Sanctuary resident. If anything drastic was written in, in order to ‘spice up’ the tale, I think that that would have detracted from the realism of the story, so I liked how Khan stuck to their normal lives – lives that anyone could lead.
In the story, Sanctuary is seen as just a ‘normal’ thing; but in reality, that kind of town and lifestyle is a utopia. No discrimination, no prejudice, no violence. A very thought-provoking read, and an interesting story and concept. Definitely brightened my bus ride home!