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Gillian Flynn Books

The Centre by Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi (Hardcover)

The Centre by Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi (Hardcover)

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Fiction - Thriller - Suspense - Satire


In this “dazzling” speculative debut, a London-based Pakistani translator furthers her stalled career by attending a mysterious language school that boasts near-instant fluency—but at a secret, sinister cost (Gillian Flynn)

Anisa Ellahi dreams of being a translator of “great works of literature,” but mostly spends her days subtitling Bollywood movies and living off her parents’ generous allowance. Adding to her growing sense of inadequacy, her mediocre white boyfriend, Adam, has successfully leveraged his savant-level aptitude for languages into an enviable career. But when Adam learns to speak Urdu practically overnight, Anisa forces him to reveal his secret.

Adam begrudgingly tells her about The Centre, an elite, invite-only program that guarantees complete fluency in any language, in just ten days. This sounds, to Anisa, like a step toward the life she’s always wanted. Stripped of her belongings and all contact with the outside world, she enrolls and undergoes The Centre’s strange and rigorous processes. But as Anisa enmeshes herself further within the organization, seduced by all that it’s made possible, she soon realizes the hidden cost of its services.

By turns darkly comic and surreal, and with twists as page-turning as they are shocking, The Centre journeys through Karachi, London, and New Delhi, interro-gating the sticky politics of language, translation, and appropriation along the way. Through Anisa’s addictive tale of striving and self-actualization, Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi ultimately asks the reader: What is the real price we pay in our scramble to the center?


Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi has previously published short stories, reviews, translations, essays, monologues, and poetry. She has also worked as an editor and a playwright. Ayesha was contributing editor for the Serial Productions podcast The Trojan Horse Affair, and has been anthologized by Tilted Axis Press, Peepal Tree Press, Influx Press, EMC, and Oberon Books, and published in The IndependentCeasefireThe Theatre Times, Wasafiri, and Media Diversified. Her plays and monologues have had rehearsed readings and stagings at venues including the Rich Mix, Theatre503, and the Tristan Bates Theatre in London, and the Impact Hub in Birmingham, and she's also written for BBC Radio 4. Ayesha is from Karachi and lives in London.

One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2023
ELLE • SheReads • Library Journal • CrimeReads • Jump Scares  

"Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi has crafted a gripping, surreal mystery about language, identity, and greed. The Centre explores impossible success at an equally impossible price—and the difference between merely paying for something and truly understanding its dark cost." —Peng Shepherd, bestselling author of The Cartographers

“The Centre is as haunting as it is tempting; this book devoured me back.” —Sarah Gailey, author of Just Like Home and Eat the Rich

“The Centre is a banger! I don't know how Ayesha Manazir Siddiqi managed to write a book that feels both cheery and terrifying, but The Centre draws you in with a gentle hand until it throws the mallet down in the last thirty pages. A terrific meditation on language, diaspora, alienation, and culture, The Centre will stay with you long after you read its last, luscious, loopy sentence.” —Chelsea G. Summers, author of A Certain Hunger

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