While exploring racial, ethnic, and religious prejudice, Tatuky also puts together a spy thriller made all the more exciting by how shocking and rapid the escalation into violence becomes. Tatuky befriends Rushdie, one of his favorite writers, even as the duo is beset by assassins. (The real-life Rushdie’s erudition, ambition, courage, and sense of play clearly has influenced this novel’s composition.) Slowly but surely, Tatuky helps lead Mustafa to a change of heart and sees him experience actual happiness, before tragedy strikes.
While English is not Tatuky's first language, and there are occasional spelling and grammatical errors, his sheer enthusiasm for writing is evident on every page. He has a passion for communicating his beliefs, his interests, and his aesthetic point of view and wraps them into every portion of the narrative, recommending movies or songs that seem fitting, offering vivid descriptions of life in post-Soviet Georgia, and wringing pathos out of the shaving of a mustache. The end result is self-indulgent, to be sure, but it's also an engaging geopolitical thriller and touching personal statement.
Takeaway: Playful, provocative novel mixing thriller, memoir, and literary ambition.
Comparable Titles: Leila Slimani’s The Perfect Nanny, Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-