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CORNER SHOP by Roopa Farooki

CORNER SHOP

By Roopa Farooki

Pub Date: Feb. 3rd, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-312-37556-0
Publisher: St. Martin's

Light but with melancholy touches, an oddly balanced story of three generations of a mixed-race British family striving for love and self-fulfillment.

Pakistani-born, Europe-based Farooki follows up her debut (Bitter Sweets, 2007) with another romantic/domestic saga marked by multicultural twists. Teenager Luhith “Lucky” Khalil is emerging into adolescence and his twin passions for soccer and Star Wars are giving ground to a more tangible obsession: Portia, the newspaper delivery girl employed by his roguish, corner-shop–owning grandfather Zaki. Lucky’s mother, French-born Delphine, was a successful businesswoman when she met widowed Zaki, years earlier, and she had an affair with him. But Zaki, with his shopkeeping and taste for gambling, wasn’t her idea of husband material. Instead she married Zaki’s far more traditional lawyer son Jinan. Farooki’s sometimes chick-lit-ish story revolves around Delphine’s dissatisfactions, Lucky’s progress and the tension between not getting what you want versus getting it. When Portia discovers that Delphine and Zaki have reignited their affair, Zaki disappears, Delphine wallows for a bit, then decides to accept her lot. Lucky’s footballing career reaches impossible heights when he is 18, leaving him with nowhere to go afterward. Zaki, meanwhile, starts a new life in France.

Dull spots, downbeat characters and a sense of drift weigh down a none-too-serious mixture of romance and philosophy.