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A Dinner Party in the Home Counties

Chosen by Farhana

This is the debut poetry collection of Reshma Ruia, an award-winning writer and co-founder of The Whole Kahani (a collective of British South Asian writers). Reshma’s first novel Something Black in the Lentil Soup (BlackAmber Books, 2003) was praised in the Sunday Times as ‘a gem of straight-faced comedy’, and more recently she was crowned winner of the Word Masala Debut Poet Award 2019. Her new book is a delight.

Born in India, brought up in Italy and living in Britain, Reshma is no stranger to travel, and these poems explore a multiple sense of identity and belonging, as well as a range of other themes to do with boundaries, time, memory, desire, bodies, the surreal, the sad and the celebratory.

‘“Where are you from? Originally?”...

I don’t drop my cutlery or my vowels’

‘My father, small as a hummingbird...

made up of medicines and memory’

‘I stripped, giddy like a newborn teenager

in a hurry. Skin to the bone

till I didn’t know where your breath began

and mine ended.’

‘If only she could run, back to her ten-year old self

chasing butterflies on the village green.

Cheeks freckled with sunshine, not age.’

‘You mean immigrating? No, I meant emigrating. It’s what rich folks do when they set up home in another country.’

‘An atom of liquid and light you linger on, clinging to my fingertips, a life raft.’

This is a confident, playful and tender collection that conveys a wonderful variety of voices and ideas. A Dinner Party in the Home Counties is a rich feast from an accomplished writer that will leave you savouring each poem, and coming back for second helpings.

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