Books·Canadian

Night of Power

Night of Power is a novel by Anar Ali.

Anar Ali

It's 1998. And Mansoor Visram has lived in Canada for 25 years, ever since dictator Idi Amin expelled South Asians from Uganda. As a refugee with a wife and child, Mansoor has tried his best to recreate the life they once had, but starting over in Canada has been much harder than he expected.

He's worked as a used car salesman, as a gas station attendant, and now he runs a small dry cleaner in suburban Calgary. But he's hatching plans for a father and son empire that will bring back the wealth and status the Visrams enjoyed in Uganda. The problem is, his son Ashif does not share his dreams, and he's moved across the country to get away from his father. He's a rising star at a multi-national corporation in Toronto, on the cusp of a life-changing promotion, but he can't seem to forget his girlfriend from long ago.

Mansoor's wife, Layla, has spent the past decade running her own home cooking business and trying to hold her family together. But Ashif rarely comes home to visit and Mansoor's pride has almost ruined their marriage. As the fissures that began generations ago — and continents away — reappear, Mansoor, Ashif, and Layla drift further and further apart.

On the Night of Power, a night during Ramadan when fates are decided for the next year, a terrible accident occurs. Will the Visrams survive this latest tragedy? (From Viking)

Anar Ali is a novelist and screenwriter who lives in Toronto. Her short story collection, Baby Khaki's Wings, was a finalist for the Commonwealth Writer's Prize, the Trillium Book Award, and the Danuta Gleed Literary Prize.

Why Anar Ali wrote Night of Power

"This story was sitting and marinating with me for a long time. I wanted to look at what it means to be a woman in a patriarchal society while also understanding what it is to be a man. Patriarchy also creates oppression for men; they're forced into spaces that they don't always want or don't always understand. They're sometimes being oppressive without even realizing it. 

Patriarchy also creates oppression for men; they're forced into spaces that they don't always want or don't always understand.- Anar Ali

"The book looks at old school and contemporary ways around how we think about men and how they treat women. This is especially true looking at the stereotypical views that are around in the Muslim world or in communities of people of colour."

Read more in her interview with CBC Books.

From the book

Mansoor tries to clear the frost from the glass door of his store with a handkerchief. Instead, he creates a pattern of semicircles over the front sign, M.G. Visram & Son Dry Cleaners, Inc., Suiting Canada Since 1987. Outside, a thin, sharp snow is falling, the flurries visible only under the street lamps. It's past seven in the morning and still pitch dark. The winter sun will not rise for at least another hour. Most of the stores in the shopping plaza, located in an upscale neigh­bourhood in southwest Calgary, are closed: the travel agency, the hairdresser, the dentist's office, the video store. Only the dry cleaners and the twenty-four-hour convenience store are open, like fluorescent snow globes in the dark.

Mansoor turns around and inspects his store, just as he does each morning. It's a small space, only five hundred and fifty-three square feet, but it's well organized and this gives him a great deal of satisfaction. Gold frames pock the wall above the cash register, like a collage of family photographs. In one, a dollar bill, the first one he earned in Canada, from August 1973. In another, his business licence, and yet another, his pledge to his customers. "I may not have the answer, but I will find it. I may not have the time, but I will make it." Against another wall, a short bookshelf holds his books with titles like In Search of Excellence and Men's Strength & Power Training, as well as biographies of men like Henry Ford, Bill Gates, and Neil Armstrong. The front of the store is separated from the back by a glass wall, allowing his customers to see what a well-organized operation he runs. Rows of suits and shirts, swathed in plastic, hang on a conveyor belt like headless men. 


From Night of Power by Anar Ali ©2019. Published by Viking ​​​​​​.

 

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