The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali


Author : Uzma Aslam Khan

9789388689465 | HB | pp. 380 | 2019 | Westland

The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali brilliantly excavates a forgotten past of several societies and honours its human complexity with a narrative of delicate precision.

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‘The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali brilliantly excavates a forgotten past of several societies and honours its human complexity with a narrative of delicate precision. As affecting as it is intellectually powerful, the novel is a master lesson in the art of historical fiction.’– Pankaj Mishra

‘A glorious novel about a forgotten place and a part of our history that we hardly ever talk about.’– Mohammed Hanif


Nomi and Zee are Local Borns—their father a convict condemned by the British to the Andaman Islands, their mother shipped off with him. The islands are an inhospitable place, despite their surreal beauty. In this unreliable world, the children have their friend Aye, the pet hen Priya and the distracted love of their parents to shore them up from one day to the next. Meanwhile, within the walls of the prison, Prisoner 218 D wages a war on her jailers with only her body and her memory.

When war descends upon this overlooked outpost of Empire, the British are forced out and the Japanese move in. Soon the first shot is fired and Zee is forced to flee, leaving Nomi and the other islanders to contend with a new malice. The islands—and the seas surrounding them—become a battlefield, resulting in tragedy for some and a brittle kind of freedom for others, who find themselves increasingly entangled in a mesh of alliances and betrayals.

Ambitiously imagined and hauntingly alive, The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali writes into being the interwoven stories of people caught in the vortex of history, powerless yet with powers of their own: of bravery and wonder, empathy and endurance. Uzma Aslam Khan’s extraordinary new novel is an unflinching and lyrical page-turner, an epic telling of a largely forgotten chapter in the history of the subcontinent.

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Uzma Aslam Khan







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About the Author

Uzma Aslam Khan is the author of four previous novels, translated worldwide to critical acclaim. These include Trespassing, nominated for a Commonwealth Prize in 2003; The Geometry of God, a Kirkus Review’s Best Books of 2009 and winner of the Bronze award at the Independent Book Publishers Awards; and Thinner Than Skin, longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and winner of the French Prize for Best Fiction at the Karachi Literature Festival 2014. Her work has appeared in Granta, The Massachusetts Review, The Guardian, Counterpunch, Dawn, Herald, among other anthologies and journals, national and international. Born and raised in Pakistan, Khan has lived in many locations across the globe, including England, Japan, Philippines and Oceania. She currently resides in the United States. Visit her at

‘A richly imagined universe … If we are to strive for a more just world, we need to hear the stories.’ – The Hindu

‘Part of the beauty of Khan’s writing stems from the fact that she does not need to actively portray racism, she makes virtually all her characters live it … Khan writes with quietly restrained but powerful passion.’ – Dawn, Pakistan

‘The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali is a vibrant defiance of traditionally accepted histories … Khan writes of the lives that history would rather ignore, creating a brilliant gash in the narrative structure historically manufactured.’ – FirstPost

‘Language remains the strongest character in (the) narrative … A consummate storyteller, (Khan) keeps readers engrossed till the end. It is one story that you should not miss.’ – The Tribune


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