Published today, Hashim & Family is Shahnaz Ahsan’s debut novel. It tells an epic story of familial ties, migration and finding a connection to home, tracking the experience of two cousins over two decades as they struggle to integrate into the UK and mourn the upheaval of their homeland in East Pakistan.
Shahnaz studied History & English at Hertford between 2006 and 2009 and her portrait featured in our co-education portrait display in 2014. Hashim & Family is inspired by the experiences and struggles of her grandparents’ generation; her grandfather arrived in Britain as an economic migrant in 1956, finding factory work in Manchester before going on to open his own grocery shop and later a restaurant. Writing for the co-education portrait catalogue, Shahnaz said:
Although my grandfather had no formal education and could not read or write, he placed great emphasis on academic success for his children and grandchildren. He did not live to see my two sisters and I graduate from Oxford University, but I wonder if he had ever imagined that in just two generations such a thing might have been possible.
Published by John Murray Press as their lead fiction debut for 2020, Hashim & Family has been hotly awaited since it was snapped up by the publishers at a writers’ pitching event. Publisher Mark Richards said that “her extraordinarily assured first novel Hashim & Family deals with the biggest of issues – immigration, racism, nationalism, and the meaning and pull of home – but it is a novel always rooted in the lives of its characters, and by the end they feel like people you too have known, and cared for, for 20 years.”