A Beautiful Lie: Irfan Master  

A Beautiful Lie by Irfan Master (Bloomsbury)

Irfan Master makes his debut with an ambitious subject in a novel for older teens – the partition of India. Master evokes beautifully life in the village where our hero Bilal lives with his dying father, Bapuji – from the sights of the streets to the sharply-observed descriptions of the characters.
It is 1947, and Bilal is horrified to learn that his father is dying and equally shocked by the impending fate of India, that would break his father’s heart.
Bilal decides to shield him from the news, bringing in his loyal friends to help out. This driver for the action is a bold one – would young people today recognise that level of integrity? Nevertheless, Bilal is a convincing hero, Master a convincing storyteller and this is a great story. Bilal and his friends experience a terrifying rite of passage, where the true horror of the situation is brought home.
Master explores the theme of separation, in a thread through the novel from the wall of books that divides Bilal’s home to the estranged relationship with his politicised brother Bhai.
The moving epilogue gives the novel a filmic quality – Danny Boyle are you reading?  This is a refreshing first novel, simply and expertly told. A great debut.