Mongrel – Sayra Begum (Knockabout)

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Change is never easy. It’s a difficult, often insurmountable, hill to climb that challenges all who seek its whispered promises of better futures and different paths to push themselves to their absolute limit in the quest to discover its many hidden truths and joys. Elusive and secretive, but always worth fighting for, change can be painful as well as liberating, and Mongrel, Sayra Begum’s unfailingly honest, enchanting and, at times uncomfortable and demanding, account of a young Muslim growing up in modern Britain examines how arduous social and personal change can be when the old world meets the new and their seemingly incompatible values and ideals collide.

Begum’s story charts the personal struggle that central character Shuna finds herself imprisoned in, as she desperately tries to cling to her faith and belief in family while trying to discover who she is and her place in her adoptive home. Semi-autobiographical and told in stark, beautifully detailed monochromatic imagery that reflects the strict absolutes that define Shuna’s life, Mongrel is a powerful testament to the human spirit and it’s need to find some sort of connection and meaning in the everyday rules that govern our existence in order to attempt to understand the bigger picture and the much larger whole that we’re all part of. Intimate, candid and powerful, Mongrel seamlessly incorporates the all too real difficulties people are forced to deal with and overcome when the things that separate us as a species do their utmost to subsume everything that connects us into a story of loss, love and how sometimes the answers to the questions that we all invariably ask ourselves, aren’t the ones we want, or need. Recommended… Tim Cundle

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