Kololo Hill by Neema Shah

A breathtaking debut that explores the true meaning behind home and belonging. 

Kololo Hill by Neema Shah

Neema Shah's heritage is as rich and diverse as her debut novel Kololo Hill. Born in London to immigrant parents who migrated from India to East Africa before settling in the UK, Shah draws inspiration from her own family's history to craft a poignant and powerful story of displacement and resilience. 

Uganda, 1972. A devastating decree is issued, ordering all Ugandan Asians to leave the country within ninety days and never return. Newlyweds Asha and Pran are faced with an impossible decision – abandon their family business or risk their lives by staying. Meanwhile, Pran's mother, Jaya, must bid farewell to the only home she has ever known as violence and chaos grip the streets of Kampala. 

Kololo Hill is an absorbing novel that delves into a period of history that is often overlooked. With beautiful prose, Shah captures the poignant struggle of individuals caught in the turmoil of displacement, grappling with the loss of their home and identity. Where are you supposed to go when you are told to ‘go back home’ but your home no longer welcomes you? Shah asks. The novel's vivid portrayal of the initial shock and hardship faced by immigrants in England is both authentic and insightful, painting a compelling picture of their struggles. Shah’s fantastic writing style creates a sharp juxtaposition between beautiful, vibrant Uganda and the holding camps and freezing cold terrace house in London.  Much like the characters, readers will find themselves longing for Uganda too. 

In addition, Shah is a master in character development. Each character is expertly crafted and fully fleshed out, allowing readers to truly connect with them. The intricate family dynamics portrayed in the book are captivating, and the way in which the Gujarati tradition is woven into the story adds a layer of authenticity and realism. Asha is a standout character, and her unwavering strength in the face of adversity is truly inspiring. On a similar note, Jaya is a force to be reckoned with, displaying a remarkable steeliness and a willingness to stand up for what she believes in. 

Overall, Kololo Hill is an unforgettable and masterfully crafted work that thoughtfully navigates the complex themes of displacement, identity, discrimination, and the universal human desire for a sense of belonging. 


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