An unnamed working class town in northern England, around the present day. A place where austerity and racial tension are part and parcel of everyday life. A place where the multiple impacts of international politics – multiculturalism, integration, class division, social/economical decline – really come home to roost.
Jed Kennedy is a young, white British male, a factory worker, newly married with a baby on the way. He is just trying to get on in life, look after his own and improve on his lot. But he is also increasingly troubled by the changing face of his home town. He is alarmed by what he sees as an endless tide of immigration and, more significantly, an ever increasing presence of Islam. He feels voiceless against what he sees as the cultural genocide of his identity and the erosion of British values.
In the same town, Imran Jassat is a young British Asian of Pakistani descent. He is a student raised by a lapsed Muslim father. Imran is a non-practising Muslim, more interested in socialising with friends and romancing his white girlfriend, Sophie, than in religion or politics. He does, however, see himself and his peers as outsiders in terms of identity – neither fully Pakistani, nor wholly British. Meanwhile, Imran's beloved cousin, Zafir Khan, is about to return from a long stay in Pakistan a changed man...
Sophie is infatuated with Imran. But the relationship is complicated by the fact that her father, Lloyd, suffered life changing injuries during the 7/7 terrorist attacks whilst on business in London. Now, severely depressed and alcoholic, he has developed right wing views.
Tensions in the town are already fraught. They begin to reach boiling point when a local Muslim cleric, Anjem Chopdat, and his fundamentalist group begin holding inflammatory street protests in the area. Driven by fanatical faith, they demonstrate against the British government's foreign policy and the armed forces' involvement in the Middle East conflict. They also call for Sharia law to be implemented in the UK.
Somebody will stand up to counter this. If the government and the police won’t, then the common man in the street just might...
Is Jed just a racist bigot? Or is he right to resist the extinction of his way of life? Is Anjem a dangerous maniac and hypocrite? Or a learned scholar fearlessly spreading the last word of the All Mighty? Are young men like Zafir viciously biting the hand that feeds them in the name of a flawed ideology? Or are they brainwashed victims of a perversion of a peaceful faith? Can two such vastly different cultures ever peacefully co-exist? This novel explores the very distinct mindsets, opinions, experiences and perspectives of such characters. How did we get here, and what is next?
Life before the war.