by Sonora Jha
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Pub Date 14 Feb 2023 | Archive Date 11 Apr 2023
"Sonora Jha expertly inhabits the perspective of a man so terrified of the old world slipping away, he can’t see the ground shifting beneath his feet. A deliciously sharp, mercilessly perceptive exploration of power, The Laughter explores how ‘otherness’ is both fetishized and demonized, and what it means to love something—a person, a country—that does not love you back."—Celeste Ng, New York Times-bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere and Our Missing Hearts
A white male college professor develops a dangerous obsession with his new Pakistani colleague in this modern, iconoclastic novel.
Dr. Oliver Harding, a tenured professor of English, is long settled into the routines of a divorced, aging academic. But his quiet, staid life is upended by his new colleague, Ruhaba Khan, a dynamic Pakistani Muslim law professor.
Ruhaba unexpectedly ignites Oliver’s long-dormant passions, a secret desire that quickly tips towards obsession after her teenaged nephew, Adil Alam, arrives from France to stay with her. Drawn to them, Oliver tries to reconcile his discomfort with the worlds from which they come, and to quiet his sense of dismay at the encroaching change they represent—both in background and in Ruhaba’s spirited engagement with the student movements on campus.
After protests break out demanding diversity across the university, Oliver finds himself and his beliefs under fire, even as his past reveals a picture more complicated than it seems. As Ruhaba seems attainable yet not, and as the women of his past taunt his memory, Oliver reacts in ways shocking and devastating.
An explosive, tense, and illuminating work of fiction, The Laughter is a fascinating portrait of privilege, radicalization, class, and modern academia that forces us to confront the assumptions we make, as both readers and as citizens.
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