Genie and Paul is an utterly original love story: the story of a sister’s love for a lost brother, and the story of his love for an island that has never really existed.
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One morning in May 2003, on the cyclone-ravaged island of Rodrigues in the Indian Ocean, the body of a man washes up on the beach.
Six weeks previously, the night Tropical Cyclone Kalunde first gathered force, destruction of another kind hit twenty-six-year-old Genie Lallan and her life in London: after a night out with her brother she wakes up in hospital to discover that he’s disappeared. Where has Paul gone and why did he abandon her at the club where she collapsed? Genie’s search for him leads her to Rodrigues, sister island to Mauritius – their island of origin, and for Paul, the only place he has ever felt at home. Will Genie track Paul down? And what will she find if she does?
The debut novel of Natasha Soobramanien.
Times Literary Supplement7 April 2015
Polyphonic and intricately patterned, Genie and Paul ranges over thirty years and brings together the stories of the Mauritians who stayed on the island and the stories of those who left it behind. Soobramanien observes Mauritius and London with equal attention, and her descriptions of the latter as it appears to those encountering it for the first time are funny and sharp... Holding in tension Mauritius and London, a search for a person and a search for a place, Natasha Soobramanien's debut is both a bold interpretation of a French classic and a subtle meditation on the compulsion to keep looking, even when we know that what we are looking for no longer exists, and perhaps never existed at all.
Time Out4 April 2015
A vivid account of exile and expatriation... when it comes to mood and melancholy, Soobramanien's grasp is unerring. Skipping lightly from present to past, through intensely felt childhood fears and family histories, the book builds a rich, redolent landscape of dream and memory through which these isolated figures drift, seeking something that probably never existed to begin with: an island, a brother, a sense of belonging. For a debut novel, Genie and Paul is nothing short of remarkable.
The Quietus31 March 2015
Soobramanien's beautiful, lovingly written first novel tells the story of a sister's love for her brother, of how far it carries her in her quest to find him, and finally of its limits. At the same time, it is a portrait of a young man's struggle to discover an identity, and of his yearning for a remembered childhood place which may or may not exist in reality. Soobramanien's greatest achievement with Genie and Paul may lie in its expression of the lost time between childhood and adulthood. The novel feels sparse, almost unaccountably sad, the space in between the lines of narrative being a silent, eloquent representation of the lost hours of youth.
God Is In The TV: The Independent Music & Culture Webzine24 March 2015
A just, yet unblinkered view, of Mauritius and its even more remote poorer satellite Rodrigues, is contrasted with a colorful, musical rich, depiction of London, as Soobramanien’s controlled prose describes the hardships and travails of a family marooned. Poised and meticulously written, there’s hardly a word out of place let alone wasted sentence, each line justified in this lean but expansive novel.