Other Names, Other Places

by Ola Mustapha

Published 13/07/2023

Published: 13/07/2023
ISBN: 9781914148309/9781914148316
Price: £14.99/£9.99
Format: Hardback and Paperback

Mama, Baba… and Mrs Brown.

Wayward Nessie is caught between cultures: too English for her Tunisian parents, yet not ‘white enough’ or ‘African enough’ to fit in with any of the groups at school. Her father is determined to make the family ‘respectable’, while Mama is lost in nostalgia for the country she left behind. Even Nessie’s sister Sherine, who appears to find it easiest to slip between identities, faces struggles of her own.

Then there is the charismatic Mrs Brown, who befriended her parents on their arrival in England. She soon becomes the glue holding the family together, until one day she disappears from their lives as quickly as she arrived.

Years later, struggling with patterns of self-sabotage, Nessie returns home to confront the mysteries of her childhood. Forced to re-examine everything she thought she knew, she begins to wonder: what really happened between her parents and Mrs Brown?

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‘Ola Mustapha revels in the confusions and squashed experiences of growing up that most would rather forget. This is a novel of rootlessness and family secrets, which tells its truth with briskness and deftness, aiming straight at the reader’s heart’ Leila Aboulela, author of River Spirit

‘An immersive and gorgeous read’ — Eva Verde, author of Lives Like Mine

‘Ola Mustapha’s storytelling is vigorous and complex. In Nessie, she has created a brilliantly paradoxical protagonist, whose self-doubts compete with an irresistible inner fire. Its rich explorations of culture, identity, and family secrets are at once relatable and revelatory’ — Phoebe Walker, author of Temper

‘Mustapha’s spare, lucid prose explores a complex web of displacement as her main character carves a hard path between cultures and little-understood family loyalties. A searching, honest and evocative book’ — Fiona Vigo Marshall, author of The House of Marvellous Books

‘Ola Mustapha precisely evokes the experience of being a migrant; of the changing self balancing several existences within, along with all the burdens they carry. An impressive and layered novel, by a writer to watch out for’ —Polis Loizou, author of A Good Year