cover image A Beautiful Lie

A Beautiful Lie

Irfan Master. Albert Whitman, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8075-0597-7

In this highly charged and poignant debut novel set in 1947, first published in the U.K., 13-year-old narrator Bilal works hard to conceal the impending partition of India, which resulted in the creation of Pakistan, to protect his dying father and give him peace. Set in a market town in northern India, the narrative leads up to the August 14 division of India along religious lines, separating Muslims, like Bilal's family, from the predominantly Hindu population. Bilal knows this divide will upset his father, a staunch supporter of a united India, and he conspires with his friends to hide the truth from him. Master raises the question of when a lie is warranted, even honorable, and Bilal's decision is further complicated as key members of the town become involved in the deception, and tension and danger mount. The author does not shy from the violence of the period, but balances it with the exceptional kindness shown by Bilal and others. Master's standout novel about loss and love illuminates an intense, fascinating chapter of history, one with bearings on the present. Ages 13%E2%80%93up. (Sept.)