A novel about family, tradition, loss and the challenge of feeling at home, from the author of the memoir No Country Woman
A stunning debut novel of a family torn apart by tradition and brought back together again by love
Their mother was sick. Their mother was dying.
Laila wanted her to come home.
She wasn't sure which of the two truths was more frightening.
Ayat hasn't seen or spoken to her sister, Laila, and mother, Khadija, for six years. She has been estranged from her family since she baulked against the arranged marriage of her sister and settled into a relationship deemed haram by Indian Muslim tradition.
Living in Melbourne, with Harry, Ayat is a different person now, living a different life. She is not the woman her mother and sister once knew - so how can she go home? But how can she not?
Once a Stranger weaves through the past and present to show the bonds and disconnects between sisters, and between a mother and daughter, as the three women grapple with the idea of where they feel most at home.
'Zoya Patel intercepts at the intersections - eloquently traversing time and space; bridging the cosmic tension between gender, culture, faith and family. Contemporary Australian storytelling at its finest.' Michael Mohammed Ahmad
'Vivid and moving. Patel's love and respect for culture are evident in the tenderness of her writing' SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
'Zoya Patel writes with an ease that pulls us deeply and immediately into situation and character. In starkly revealing the unbending, she invites us to examine our prejudices, our narrowness, our places of vulnerability ... That she makes us think and feel in equal measure is a mark of her literary mastery' LIVING ARTS CANBERRA
'A calm, beautiful, occasionally sad but ultimately redemptive story of family, love, lost time, and the bonds that keep us together' CANBERRA TIMES
'An enjoyable and accessible read, Patel's novel shines a light on the female migrant experience, exploring themes of identity and belonging, and loss and grief' ARTS HUB
'Patel's characters are layered and easy to empathise with. The novel unravels the history of the family feud in an engaging way, creating a powerful page turner sure to make the reader consider their own familial ties' GEELONG ADVERTISER
At once heartwarming and an urgent call to arms, No Country Woman is intelligent, thought-provoking and fresh, pleading for empathy in a world often lacking it. - Readings
No Country Woman reads as though a friend is sharing some of the most important and intimate things about her life. Thoughtful, well-researched, straightforward and often funny - Mascara Literary Review
razor-sharp debut ... incisive and deeply personal - Books+Publishing
Zoya Patel is the author of No Country Woman, a memoir of race, religion and feminism. She is co-host of The Guardian's Book It In podcast, and the Margin Notes podcast alongside Yen Eriksen. Zoya is a columnist for the RiotACT, and regular books critic and writer for The Guardian, Canberra Times, SBS Voices, Refinery29 and more. Zoya has won numerous awards for her writing and editing, and she was a 2020 judge for the Stella Prize and Chair of the 2021 Stella Prize judging panel.