A product of many years, the result is a searing, meticulously detailed account of the deportation of the Chagossian people and their struggles in Mauritius ... One of Patel’s great strengths is her ability to infuse the novel with a cornucopia of details about Chagossian culture, without the text ever feeling laden, forced, or academic ... Patel takes her time...in gorgeous prose ... the dissemination of the Chagossians’ story is a crucial way of ensuring that the struggle lives on.
Dreamy and lyrical ... Patel’s compelling afterword adds a nonfiction precis that fills in many of the imagined narrative’s telling omissions ... Stateless yet forbidden to return to their island home, the Chagossians have given up on silence; Patel’s book bears witness to their struggle.
If at times the story reads like a thinly veiled history lesson and the nonlinear narrative feels gimmicky, it nevertheless serves an important function: to inform readers about the unseen collateral damage of geopolitical games of Risk. The bullies on the playground dictate the terms since they know the weaker players have no currency they can truly leverage. A fierce and evocative telling of the strangled arc of a peace-loving people.