The World Unseen by Shamim Sarif

The World Unseen

Shamim Sarif

This book reveals more than one unseen world but the main focus is young Indian women in 1950s’ apartheid South Africa. It evokes the heat and dust, sounds and smells, the underlying tension, and the ever present sense of danger. Sharply perceptive, it’s sympathetic to the men as well as the women and full of surprises. Try this if you want an easy read with a lot of depth.


‘This place – how can you stand it?’ Rehmat asked her.
‘Stand what? I love it – I love the country, the space. I don’t know, I just feel at home here. It’s not like India.’
‘Yes it is,’ replied Rehmat, shaking her head. ‘It is exactly like a mini India. Our people come here but live the same way – keep their women inside, keep their children inside. And God help anyone who tries to fight it.’
‘God helps me to fight it,’ smiled Amina. ‘I don’t stay inside. And I think you probably fought it too,’ she added.
Rehmat smiled, but her eyes were sad as she looked at Amina.
‘I did fight it. I fought is so hard that I had to leave.’

  • In Beautiful Disguises by Rajeev Balasubramanyan
  • Debbie Go Home by Alan Paton
  • My Beautiful Laundrette - the film

Books with similar mood

After Me Comes the Flood

Sarah Perry

Wild Dogs

Helen Humphreys

The Prophets of Eternal Fjord

Kim Leine

Our Horses in Egypt

Rosalind Belben


Julia Leigh

We That Are Young

Preti Taneja


Cynan Jones

Professor Andersen's Night

Dag Solstad

In a Strange Room

Damon Galgut

Moses, Citizen and Me

Delia Jarrett-Macauley

Fragrant Harbour

John Lanchester

Double Vision

Pat Barker

The Mariner's Star

Candida Clark


Anthony Cropper


Janette Turner Hospital

Fugitive Pieces

Anne Michaels

Conscious and Verbal

Les Murray

The Island

R J Price

In the Distance

Hernan Diaz

The World Without Us

Mireille Juchau

Notes From a Bright Field

Rose Cook

Last Fling

Sue Gee


Tom Lee


Owen Sheers

Kith and Kin

Stevie Davies

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

Olga Tokarczuk

Basket of Deplorables

Tom Rachman

Life After Life

Kate Atkinson

Pictures of Lily

Matthew Yorke

Alva & Irva

Edward Carey

Death Is Hard Work

Khaled Khalifa

Say Something Back

Denise Riley

In the Wake

Per Petterson

Three Day Road

Joseph Boyden

The English Years

Norbert Gstein

What's Left of Me is Yours

Stephanie Scott


Mick Kitson


Judith Hermann

Claire of the Sea Light

Edwidge Danticat

Underground Time

Delphine de Vigan

The Resurrectionist

James Bradley

Totes Meer

Dai Vaughan

The Diagnosis

Alan Lightman

The Cave

Jose Saramago

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress

Dai Sijie

The Constant Gardener

John Le Carre

Anatomy of a Soldier

Harry Parker

Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Madeleine Thien


Yoko Ogawa