I read this book in two sittings because I was so swept away by the gorgeous sentences, compelling characters, and a premise illustrated with the perfect amount of detail. Nadia and Saeed meet and begin to fall in love as unrest and instability in their [unnamed] city grows. Meanwhile, mysterious “doors” are popping up around the world, granting access from continent to continent, hemisphere to hemisphere.
The premise is carried off with subtlety and thoughtfulness — it’s not a puzzlebox and you never find out why or how these doors came to exist. That’s not a spoiler; it’s pretty evident from the first couple chapters that the “how” is not the point, as the narrative instead explores this concept that the universe will find a way to open itself to refugees, even if its people and policies won’t. Amidst that concept, Hamid also explores questions that include (but are in no way limited to!): What does it mean to be “from” a place, and how does leaving that place impact your identity? What does love look like in a time of chaos and how does it shift?
Also, it’s kind of a short read! So if you think you don’t have time for a beautifully written magical-realism-refugee-love-story, good news! You definitely do!