I haven’t done any book reviews for a while, mainly because they were some of the less popular posts that I did, but I was contacted by the publisher and asked if I would like to review a new book set in Abu Dhabi so I thought why not?
Denise Roig is the author of a number of books, including “A Quiet Night & A Perfect End” (a collection of short stories). She moved to Abu Dhabi in 2008 but now lives in Hamilton, Ontario.
To paraphrase from the publisher’s website, “Brilliant” is a collection of short stories set in Abu Dhabi, a city where cultures collide and converge. In the stories a cast of characters (including an Egyptian pastry chef, a Canadian nurse and newly destitute English couple amongst others) navigate Abu Dhabi discovering the limits of freedom, money, tolerance and their own good sense.
The book doesn’t fall into any of my three main categories that I have spoken about previously (“can do no wrong authors”, “tick three boxes”, and “you have my support”) but over the last year I have added a fourth category – “Books about my new home” – which this one falls squarely into. I was therefore happy to give it a go.
So what did I think of “Brilliant”? In short I enjoyed it very much (I suppose I could say “it is brilliant”, but that would be a bit cheesy). Before I started I hadn’t really appreciated it was a collection of short stories that crossed over in places. In fact I don’t think I had fully appreciated whether it was fiction or non fiction. Once I had got a little way into the book I had to go back and check which it was because what it describes is so vivid.
Why did I enjoy it so much? Because there was a lot in there I could relate to – it mentioned places I know or have heard of, it described situations I could relate to from what I have learned about life in the UAE in the short time I have been here. From the other categories of books that I enjoy (set in places I know in the UK, etc) this is important to me.
It also introduced me to characters who I wanted to keep reading to find out more about. Most importantly once I had finished it left me wanting to hear still more about how the lives of some of the (more likeable) characters would develop. That’s got to be a good thing.
Would I recommend the book to others? Definitely to people who live / have lived / are going to live in Abu Dhabi and are interested in reading material that is related to the city. It gave me a good sense of what life in the city is, and was, like. To be honest I’m less sure as to whether I would recommend it to anyone who does not have a “connection” to the city, although if you interested in reading about different cultures you will probably enjoy it.
That’s it from me. Publishers, feel free to direct any other books about Abu Dhabi and / or the UAE my way!
You can download “Brilliant” for Kindle here.
As noted earlier I was given a copy of the book by the publisher, however, the views expressed in this review are entirely mine.