My book review of 'Western Lane' by Chetna Maroo

by Chetna Maroo
Western Lane
by Chetna Maroo

Shortlisted for this year's Booker Prize, I very much enjoyed reading this novel. It tells a moving story of a family in Pakistan where life revolves around the game of squash.

I would struggle to name many books where sport is a dominant feature, but I would never have imagined that I could have been so drawn to read about squash, and find that a writer could describe the sport so poetically!

Gopi is eleven and has been playing squash since she could hold a racquet. When her mother dies, her father devises an intensive training regime for Gopi, determined for her to enter and win competitions.

Gopi's world is soon determined by the game. There is her close bond with her father, the introduction to another talented player, a boy called Ged, and the heritage and culture of the sport itself. Her dedication means that Gopi spends less time with her sisters and sees life in terms of the rhythms of the game - the serve, the volley, the drive, the shot and its echo.

It's an amazing read! Who'd have thought squash could seem so beautiful?!

But it's not just squash, it's a coming-of-age story, an exploration of sisterhood, grief, family bonds and expectations and the immigrant experience. It is a special book that's worth reading again and again.

Review date: October 2023
Publication date: 11th May 2023