Tapan Ali falls in love with England and a student life of pot-smoking and philosophy. When the money to keep him runs out there seems no option but to return to Bangladesh until Adela, a fellow student, offers to marry him. But this marriage of convenience collapses and Tapan finds himself thrust into another England, the East London of Bangladeshi settlement and National Front violence.
Now an ‘illegal’, Tapan becomes a deshi bhai, supported by a network of friends like Sundar Mia, who becomes his guide, anti-Nazi warrior Masuk Ali, wise Brother Josef K, and, sharing the centre of the novel, his lover, Nilufar Mia, a community activist who has broken with her family to live out her alternative destiny.
Tapan has to become a mole, able to smell danger and feel his way through the dark passageways and safe houses where the Bangladeshi community has mapped its own secret city. He must evade the informers like Poltu Khan, the 'rat' who sells illegals to the Immigration. But being a mole has its costs, and Tapan cannot burrow forever -- at some moment he must emerge into the light. But how can a mole fly?
Manzu Islam has important things to say about immigration and race, but his instincts are always those of a storyteller. Using edgy realism, fantasy and humour to compulsively readable effect, he tells a warm and enduring tale of journeys and secrets, of love, family, memory, fear and betrayal.
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Syed Manzurul (Manzu) Islam was born in 1953 in a small northeastern town in East Pakistan (later Bangladesh). He has a doctorate and was Reader in English at the University of Gloucestershire, specialising in postcolonial literature and creative writing