Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi

The Centre


New York Times Editors' Choice • An Amazon Editors’ Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

“The most fascinating debut I've read in years―enigmatic, biting, absurd, and right when you think you've got it figured out, utterly horrifying.” ―Daniel Kraus, New York Times bestselling author of Whalefall and The Shape of Water (with Guillermo del Toro)

“A gripping, surreal mystery about language, identity, and greed.” ―Peng Shepherd, bestselling author of The Cartographers

The Centre draws you in with a gentle hand until it throws the mallet down.” ―Chelsea G. Summers, author of A Certain Hunger

The Centre is as haunting as it is tempting; this book devoured me back.” ―Sarah Gailey, author of Just Like Home and Eat the Rich

In this “dazzling” speculative debut, a London-based Pakistani translator furthers her stalled career by attending a mysterious language school that boasts near-instant fluency―but at a secret, sinister cost (Gillian Flynn)

Anisa Ellahi dreams of being a translator of “great works of literature,” but mostly spends her days subtitling Bollywood movies and living off her parents’ generous allowance. Adding to her growing sense of inadequacy, her mediocre white boyfriend, Adam, has successfully leveraged his savant-level aptitude for languages into an enviable career. But when Adam learns to speak Urdu practically overnight, Anisa forces him to reveal his secret.

Adam begrudgingly tells her about The Centre, an elite, invite-only program that guarantees complete fluency in any language, in just ten days. This sounds, to Anisa, like a step toward the life she’s always wanted. Stripped of her belongings and all contact with the outside world, she enrolls and undergoes The Centre’s strange and rigorous processes. But as Anisa enmeshes herself further within the organization, seduced by all that it’s made possible, she soon realizes the hidden cost of its services.

By turns darkly comic and surreal, and with twists as page-turning as they are shocking, 
The Centre journeys through Karachi, London, and New Delhi, interrogating the sticky politics of language, translation, and appropriation along the way. Through Anisa’s addictive tale of striving and self-actualization, Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi ultimately asks the reader: What is the real price we pay in our scramble to the center?

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