Paperback: My Name is Salma, by Fadia Faqir

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The Independent Culture

Ignore the trite cover, and you'll find a tender and lively novel of exile, trauma and renewal. Its village-bred heroine has fled to Exeter after the "dishonour" of an illegitimate birth, giving up her baby. As "Arab Salma" strives to be "English Sally", meeting a mixed bag of curiosity, warmth and hostility in the land of pubs and "Shakesbeer", the lost child haunts her. Free of migrant-fiction clichés, lyrical, sad, but often droll, Faqir's novel ends in a fateful return.