Shereen Malherbe’s novel, The Tower, published by Beacon Books launches in the UK in April 2019. In a contemporary London setting, The Tower is a timely, relevant piece of fiction exploring a section of London life under the pressures of migration, personal loss, attachment and shifting homelands.
Author: Shereen Malherbe
Publisher: Beacon Books, Manchester, UK.
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UK tour dates: April 2019. More details available soon.
UAE tour dates: Details available soon.
Reem is a Syrian refugee who has arrived in London, trying to discover the whereabouts of her 10-year old brother, Adar. Obsessed with history and consumed by her fragmented memories of home, Reem is also hiding secrets she hopes will never be revealed.
After being placed in a tower block, she befriends Leah; a single mother who has been forced to leave her expensive South Kensington townhouse. Their unlikely friendship supports them as they attempt to find their place in a relentless, heaving city, and come to terms with the homes they left behind.
Both bold and timely, The Tower shows how Reem and Leah’s lives changes and intersect in the wake of individual and communal tragedy, as well as in their struggle to adapt to a rapidly shifting society.
Shereen Malherbe is a British, Palestinian writer whose debut novel, Jasmine Falling, features in the top 20 Best Books by Muslim women. After studying her B.A. degree in English Literature with Creative Writing, Shereen now combines her two interests of writing and travel to create novels that straddle both the East & West.
Previously, Shereen was a writer and researcher on behalf of Muslimah Media Watch on the representation of Muslim women in the media and pop culture. She has spoken about trending topics including islamophobia on live TV, resulting in her classification in the Media Diversified Experts Directory.
Social Media & Contact
Twitter: The wandering novelist @malherbegirl
Goodreads: Shereen Malherbe author page
Publishers: Beacon Books, Manchester, UK
High resolution author photographs:
Q&A for Press Kit.
Why did you write The Tower?
I wanted to explore hope and humanity under circumstances that are relevant today. We are living in unprecedented times, with a global refugee crisis, the divide between the rich and the rest of society, the commodification of people and belongings. I wanted to capture this using a fiction novel, set in a contemporary city and the obvious choice for me, was to do that in London. I wanted to explore how diversity can be a strength and act as a unifier in society. If we try to understand each other more and celebrate our shared humanity instead of using difference as a base for misunderstanding and segregation I think we would live in a better world.
What genre is The Tower?
It is contemporary, literary fiction.
What is the book about?
It is about a group of people, strangers mostly who, through various circumstances, end up sharing parts of their lives in the same community.
Reem is a Syrian refugee who has arrived in London, trying to discover the whereabouts of her 10-year old brother, Adar. Obsessed with history and consumed by her fragmented memories of home, Reem is also hiding secrets she hopes will never be revealed. After being placed in a tower block, she befriends Leah; a single mother who has been forced to leave her expensive South Kensington townhouse. Their unlikely friendship supports them as they attempt to find their place in a relentless, heaving city, and come to terms with the homes they left behind.
Is the book about Grenfell Tower?
No, the book isn’t about Grenfell Tower because it is a work of fiction. But I know that the Grenfell Tower fire has and continues to devastate the community and beyond and as a British writer, that had an effect on me. So, there are certain parallels between the two.
Can you discuss why you chose to use a community and the relationships that exist there?
There are many ways to experience love, either between friends, parents and children, even the love you have of the familiar or wanting to keep things the same as they were. So, for this book, I didn’t want to do a traditional boy meets girl because I wanted to explore attachments and belonging in the ways that we all connect with different people and the places where we come from.
Your last novel, Jasmine Falling was based in your heritage homeland or Palestine. How was it returning to your British roots for this book?
I wanted to set my novel in Britain and see the intersection between East and West. This something both novels share. This element is present in The Tower, but it is almost in reverse. You have Reem, a refugee adjusting to London but seeing home though a series of perspectives. And home, as it is for millions of people now is not a set place. For Leah, she is British, but she also experiences this shift between what she used to know and the situation she now finds herself in. These shifting homelands is something I have experienced, and this was an interesting element to explore.
Are there any novels that inspired you to write this?
There wasn’t a book that inspired me to write this, but how widely I have read makes constructing fiction easier. For example, when I read Elif Shafak’s Flea Palace and saw how she represented Istanbul through having the characters share the building. I liked this idea of representing characters otherwise unknown to each other in a shared space.
You previously wrote and researched on behalf of Muslimah Media Watch on the representation of Muslim women, how has this work helped in your writing?
All our unique individual experiences add to the fabric of our writing and critiquing media has added to mine too. I hope that it adds authenticity and balance to the current narratives that are portrayed in society and it is an important reason as to why I write. That doesn’t mean every Muslim woman or women’s experience is the same, but the more we contribute to diverse narratives, the more we can add to this richness of experience and it is needed in a world where stereotypes tend to dominate.
When is the book out for release?
The Tower is due to be launched in the UK, in April 2019.