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A compellingly heartbreaking debut novel about the echoes of Partition and four friends whose dark secrets lead to a life-changing night that comes back to haunt them decades later.
One night. Four friends. Countless secrets.
1964. Karachi, Pakistan. Rozeena is running out of time. She'll lose her home—her parents' safe haven since fleeing India and the terrors of Partition—if her medical career doesn't take off soon. But success may come with an unexpected price. Meanwhile the interwoven lives of her childhood best friends—Haaris, Aalya, and Zohair—seem to be unraveling with each passing day. The once small and inconsequential differences between their families' social standing now threaten to divide them. Then one fateful night someone ends up dead and the life they once took for granted shatters.
2019. Rozeena receives a call from a voice she never thought she’d hear again. What begins as an ask to look after a friend’s teenaged granddaughter struggling with her own demons grows into an unconventional friendship—one that unearths buried secrets and just might ruin everything Rozeena has worked so hard to protect.
Captivating and atmospheric, Under the Tamarind Tree shows us the high-stakes ripple effects of generational trauma, and the lengths people will go to protect the ones they love.
About the Author
Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Nigar Alam spent her childhood in Turkey, Nigeria, Italy, Kenya, Indonesia, and the United States before returning to Karachi. With an MBA and CPA, she has worked in both brand management and auditing. Currently, Alam teaches at Anoka-Ramsey Community College and lives with her family in Minnesota.
Longlisted for the Center for Fiction 2023 First Novel Prize
“A lush compelling drama….A reminder of how both sweeping historic events and personal secrets can shape lives and continue to reap consequences across the generations.”—Charmaine Wilkerson, author of Black Cake
“[A] sensitive tale of reconstructed lives and reexamined choices….Alam’s vivid descriptions of Karachi, nuanced characters, and deft ability to delve into big ideas while keeping the story moving make this an emotionally engaging read.”—Booklist
“Alam’s debut spans decades and generations in an epic mystery emanating out of one fateful night in Karachi in 1964, following the reverberations altering so many lives. Alam handles the sprawling, ambitious material with enviable dexterity, and brings out a story that’s full of texture and humanity.” – Crime Reads
“A suspenseful story of friendship, loyalty, and resilience….Alam deftly explores lives ruptured and reshaped by Partition, how historical and personal traumas shape us for generations…A compelling and immersive debut."—Marjan Kamali, author of The Stationary Shop
“Tender and beautifully written….Alam explores class, family and passion in rich cultural detail. A captivating read.”—Jean Kwok, author of Girl in Translation and Searching for Sylvie Lee
“You can practically smell the courtyard’s sweet bougainvillea and feel the Arabian Sea’s misty breeze…Under the Tamarind Tree is historical fiction at its best, a story rich in fascinating historical details and deeply moving as well—a tale of friendship, family, and the power that new, unexpected relationships can have, even late in life, to heal old wounds.” —Adele Myers, author of The Tobacco Wives
“Evocative and rich in detail, Alam's graceful prose transports you to a rarely seen world and time and leaves you reeling as she reveals its heartbreaking secrets. A beautiful, unforgettable novel.” —Aamina Ahmad, author of The Return of Faraz Ali
“A gorgeous and poignant novel in which Alam explores the fine lines between choice and chance, between the personal and the political.”—Kathleen West, author of Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes
Recommended in WTMJ-NBC’s “Books to Binge” segment