Lahore, 1947. Dina Lal, a true-blue Lahori, refuses to leave, staying put in Five Queen’s Road, a house he bought, in spite of his wife’s greatest misgivings, from an Englishman who was deeply reluctant to part with it. To insulate his family from the mayhem on the streets, Dina Lal converts to Islam and as added protection invites Amir Shah, a Muslim colleague, and his children, Javid and Rubina, to share the house with him. But the events that unfold over the next few months make a mockery of Dina Lal’s plans. While Dina Lal and Amir Shah cross swords with each other at every given opportunity–though unexpectedly and in spite of themselves rushing to the other’s defence in moments of crisis–a furtive friendship blossoms between Dina Lal and Javid.
Ten years later, Javid’s European wife, Irene, still struggling with her World War II memories, joins the tumultuous household. Inexplicably, the lines of the house are redrawn, and the new border is no less arbitrary and contentious than the one that sundered the subcontinent. While the house is steadily encroached upon by a car shop settlement and a sweeper’s colony, the occupants’ long-standing feud reaches new heights. But the family sees an unexpected alliance develop and loyalties, to person and nation, are scrutinized.
In this stunning novel that weaves family saga and national history, Sorayya Khan writes deftly of characters who battle memories and each other alike.
“Richly layered, eminently readable, the narrative unfolds with a poignancy and veracity that will haunt the reader as it did me.” -Bapsi Sidhwa
“In her moving, multi-layered novel FIVE QUEEN’S ROAD . . . the intricate, complex relationships between characters reflect that of nations and also explore notions of belonging and nationhood as well as the adaptation, migration, and mutation following the violence and political upheavals of the 1940’s. -Muneeza Shamsie
“In this moving and multi-layered novel, the complex relationship between the characters reflects that of two nations of the subcontinent.” –Organizer, New Delhi
“FIVE QUEEN’S ROAD stands at the intersection of history and personal memories, a vivid portrait of life as it carries on in all its ordinariness and brutality in the shadow of Partition.” -Indian Express, New Delhi
“Sorayya Khan has the innate ability of understanding human nature with all its foibles and its tendency to become less human when faced with difficult choices. There are no heroes or villains in her script; it is about real people making unreal selfish choices as they restart life from a holocaust that in both her novels has divided countries, families and loyalties.” – Newsline, Karachi
“Reflections on adaptations, mutation, notions of belonging, nationhood, appear close to the author’s heart, as her first novel, NOOR, also makes for a remarkable and poignant read.” –The Tribune, New Delhi