How to Befriend a Butterfly 06/08/20
City of Ghosts
Based around the British massacre of Indians at Amritsar in 1919, Rai’s seventh novel for young adults moves seamlessly through time, place, belief and genre.
Overtly historical, it also encompasses a degree of Indian folktale, a ghostly guardian angel watching over one of the teenage protagonists.
Rai shows a multicultural society whose history is inextricably linked with the UK, and considers problems which are equally relevant today: relationships, racism, loyalty and duty. Two love stories emerge from the political intricacies, each imperilled by cultural division.
The strength of Rai’s text lies in its versatility, as it can be read as enjoyably for its historical content, cultural insights or its supernatural interventions. Unusual and sometimes disturbing, this is a skilful and absorbing novel.