The Lovers and the Leavers
Fourth Estate 2015
In her first novel, The Lovers and the Leavers (Fourth Estate, 2015), Abeer Hoque undertakes a literary challenge that I suspect even the most seasoned writer would find daunting: how do you tell the stories of those people, old and young, cosmopolitan and rural, living throughout the world in the South Asian diaspora? She meets this challenge through a series of interconnected stories, in which the links among characters emerge subtly but inextricably, a web of family ties that reaches from Bangladesh and India around the globe. Moreover, she captures these stories not only in prose, but also in poetry and photography, making The Lovers and the Leavers a multimedia, multi-genre experience. It’s an ambitious undertaking, spirited and subtle. Yet for all of Hoque’s impressive artistry, she seeks very recognizable ends: to give us a vivid sense of place as rich as the people who inhabit it and to render the inner lives of those people, to let us feel their passions and their pains–those that mark them and make them sometimes beautiful, sometimes broken, but always always compelling.