Still Lives is a tightly woven, haunting work that pulls apart the threads of a family and plays with notions of identity. Shortlisted for the SI Leeds Literary Prize.

The novel is a multi-cultural family saga about betrayal, love and belonging. It is set in Manchester and it explores a man’s desire for love and fulfilment and his need to weigh it against family loyalties and expectations of the society around him. It portrays the arc of an entire lifetime, not just the tug of the past, but also the pull towards a better-imagined future. The story is about a family slowly falling apart, but it also provides a twist on the conventional immigrant story, by challenging assumptions regarding identity, assimilation and what it means to be old and still be consumed by fires.

The book can be pre-ordered now from Amazon and all bookshops:
Renard Press
Amazon
Waterstones
Foyles

Delighted that my novel Still Lives is now available in India. Huge thanks to Speaking Tiger Books for publishing it and buying the rights from my wonderful UK publisher Renard Press. India is both a presence and an absence in this novel, its shadow never leaving the protagonists’ search for a new life. I am excited to see how readers in the Indian Subcontinent will respond to this novel about love, betrayal and belonging and more importantly growing mangoes in Manchester. The book is available on Amazon India and in bookshops.

Still Lives

As 2022 drew to a close, there was the inevitable drawing up of lists of best books and most widely read. While I don’t believe books can or should be ranked in a hierarchical order, it was still gratifying to find Still Lives as a favourite choice of readers, writers and reviewers I admire.

Book Signing at Daunts Bookshop, Marylebone.

I enjoyed my interview with BBC Manchester in their studios in Salford, on 20th November. We spoke about how Manchester with its dynamism and long tradition of welcoming the diaspora, plays such a pivotal role in the novel.

It was great to be a part of the Anniversary celebrations of Renard Press at the Royal Court in London on 10th November. Will Dady spoke movingly about championing writers and inclusivity.

Despite the train and tube disruptions, a sizeable crowd of fellow authors and friends managed to be there to cheer Renard Press and read from their work.

It was a full house at the launch of Still Lives at Blackwells, Manchester on 25th October on a mild, balmy Autumn evening. An engaging discussion with John McAuliffe from the Centre of New Writing, University of Manchester about Manchester’s welcoming, entrepreneurial spirit, diaspora and the notion of home and how individual choices shape our lives. It was wonderful to have my publisher Will from Renard Press along with friends old and new.

  

  

As part of SOUTH ASIAN HERITAGE MONTH 2022, I spoke about Still Lives and how Manchester has shaped the novel. Read my interview here.

I was extremely moved to receive this review from a reader. The most important thing for a writer is to form a connection with the reader. The book then becomes an on-going conversation that continues through the years.

Praise for Still Lives

“I really enjoyed this book. A page turner, couldn’t put it down. Fascinating story crossing continents, cultures and the struggles to gain footholds while fostering relationships. Beautifully written. Thoroughly recommend.”

– Review by Miriam Halahmy. May 05 2023

“Ruia’s character rendition is sublime. A forensic attention to detail allows each of her creations to invest the story with emotional verisimilitude. Idiomatic language further deepens her portrayals, the characters never use a lazy expostulatory stereotype.”

“As with her short story collection, Still Lives is a novel about frustrated hope and the search for happiness. Socrates said, “The secret to happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less”. Yes. The book gives its reader an intimate portrayal of the specific struggles faced by first generation Indian immigrants building a life away from home; however its themes are universal, not parochial. We recognise in the particular the ubiquitous, and this lifts Ruia’s novel far above the shabby dysfunctionality of one man dealing with his own regrets.”

Still Lives, as the title suggests, is a sublimely nuanced portrait of people whose identities have become little more than frozen representations of themselves no longer consistent with their surroundings, or desires. Above all, it’s a moving account of self-destruction moored in the recognisable waters of quotidian reality. The perils of leading an inauthentic, delusional life presented with consummate finesse, authorial elan and tender-hearted realism. Ruia is an author who richly deserves a wide audience, for we live in times calling for her brand of compassion, not the steely hearted mantras relentlessly assailing us from every quarter.”

Review by Paul Spalding-Mulcock, Features Writer at Yorkshire Post. March 9 2023

‘’A compelling, funny and heartbreaking look at the complexities of love and family for a British Indian textiles business owner in Manchester 🌿

As a young man, PK Malik stopped in Manchester for a few days on his way from India to the endless opportunities of the US. Those few days turned into years and now he has a house in Timperley, declining sales and a difficult teenage son with his homesick wife Geeta. Life seems drab until he starts an affair with Esther, the wife of a major player in the textiles industry – but there are, of course, consequences to their actions, with an ending that I definitely didn’t see coming.

I really enjoyed this novel! PK is a complex character who I both despaired over and rooted for throughout despite his morally questionable actions. He believes himself to be a good man doing what he needs to do, but he also wilfully turns a blind eye to the misery of his family. I love novels that make me feel conflicting emotions about the protagonist, and it’s done really well here.

There’s some great humour throughout, and all of the characters were easy to visualise. It can be difficult to write a story about people stuck between two cultures without resorting to clichés, but Ruia navigates this really well. And, of course, I loved the Manchester setting too!

I’d only read a couple of Ruia’s short stories and poems before this, but I’ll definitely hunt down some more.’’

– Review by Dipika. October 22 2022

‘’Sometimes stories just capture the wonderful essence of what it means to be human. Of where we find our place in the world, of how we relate to the journeys we’ve been on, and how all of that gets muddled and confused along the way. Still Lives by Reshma Ruia is exactly that book.’’

Review by Sarah Tinsley. October 14 2022

“What if the sought after dream fails to live up to its promise? What if the choices one makes have rippling consequences with the potential for disaster? Reshma Ruia explores these possibilities and so much more in Still Lives.”

Review by Asha Krishna. June 28 2022

“Ruia’s incisive, deftly plotted book completely won me over. It is so nuanced, so intricately layered with all the debris and clutter of accumulated disappointments, heartache, longings and all the mess that comes with the business of living life. Nothing here is clear-cut; nothing is quite as simple as it seems at first… The final brilliant thing about Still Lives is the way Ruia creates a sense of tension, of the inevitability of disaster, and yet, when it hits, it is completely unexpected. I can’t say much more about the ending, but it is powerful, and it made me re-evaluate everything that had come before. I love the idea that even a first person confessional narrative can almost ‘miss the point,’ or rather, can have hidden truths within it that even the narrator can’t see. I don’t know if I am explaining this well at all – what I’m trying to say is that Still Lives does something really intelligent and original, something that I don’t think I’ve seen very often at all. I’m going to be thinking about this book for a long time.”

Review by Elspells. June 28 2022

– Still Lives as featured in The BookSeller’s Special edition on Northern Powerhouse in Literature. June 24 June 2022

“An absorbing, moving and unexpectedly powerful read; Ruia explores all manner of issues surrounding culture, belonging, alienation and the lies we tell ourselves to be able to carry on with our daily lives.”

Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings

“This novel is a stark picture of real life. People aren’t perfect. And life can be hard. And that is what is truly at the heart of Still Lives wonderfully captured in Reshma Ruia’s writing.”

This Is My Bookshelf

“An expertly crafted novel, filled with light-touch prose and inhabitable scenes, threaded with compelling and believable dialogue. It’s a book you can lose yourself in, and I did.”

– Adam Farrer, author of Cold Fish Soup

“An emotional, often gut-wrenching, story that looks at the impact of decisions you make and the impact they have on you and those around you – with often devastating consequences.”

Karen Mace, Books And Me!

“Mango is an important leitmotif in my novel. PK Malik, the main character of my novel, tries to grow a mango tree in his back garden. The tree serves as an umbilical cord connecting him to his past in Mumbai, and is also a symbol of hope for the future.”

Linda’s Book Bag

Still Lives is a tightly woven, haunting work that pulls apart the threads of a family and plays with notions of identity. Shortlisted for the SI Leeds Literary Prize.”

Once upon a time book reviews, Marnie Harrison

“After reading this book, I realised that it is such a powerful novel about a seemingly happy family looking on as an outsider, you would never know what really is happening behind closed doors.”

Echoes in an Empty Room, by Hannah

“This is a hard-hitting read and might cause a few people to discuss this book quite strongly.”

Still Lives, A Book Blog Tour Review

Still Lives is a heart-rending evocation of a life in crisis. Not only is the minutia of this life beautifully observed but Ruia nuances its varied aspects with tremendous agility: the yearning for fulfilment, the realisation of a certain finality, a quiet fury leading us to its brutal ending. This is your must-read book for the summer.”

Selma Carvalho in Joao-Roque Literary Journal. June 16, 2022

Still Lives is definitely a story that leaves you with a haunting feeling! Identity plays such a key role throughout this book and how one individuals identity can take over/become another individuals whole identity especially if that person is a spouse. If you love a story that is about love, betrayal and belonging then this is definitely a book for you!'”

Where’s There’s Ink There’s Paper. June 15, 2022

“Clever storytelling with vivid characters.”

bobsandbooks. June 16 2022

“A real story about family that I have to say I really enjoyed, there is something about the way Still Lives (Renard Press) by Reshma Ruia just lingers with you after you have read the last page. Very much character driven and wonderfully constructed and written.”

The Last Word Book Review. June 17 2022

“This book grabs you from the get-go. Compelling characters, fantastic prose, sexy, funny and wise.”

– Heidi James, author of The Sound Mirror and So the Doves

“This book had my attention from the first page. Stunning. Heartbreaking. And so very real.”

– Khurrum Rahman, author of East of Hounslow and Homegrown Hero

“Lyrical, funny and at times haunting, Still Lives is an urgent novel that deserves to be read widely. It had me reading well into the night. Beautiful!”

– Awais Khan, author of No Honour and In the Company of Strangers

“Emotions played a big role whilst reading this book… the ending absolutely broke me… Still Lives is definitely a story that leaves you with a haunting feeling!”

– Lauren, Blogger. Kicking off the blog tour for Still Lives

“I’ve just found a new favourite author Reshma Ruia – this is such a well-written and gripping tale about a man who is disappointed in life and embarks on an affair. I absolutely loved it.”

– Bookaholic Bex

“Read through first 100 pages of Reshma Ruia’s book and am absolutely loving it. Have not come across such beautifully observed British Asian fiction in a very long time. Make this one a best seller.”

– Selma Carvalho, author of Sisterhood of Swans

The book can be pre-ordered now from Amazon and all bookshops:
Renard Press
Amazon
Waterstones
Foyles

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