We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

Observer‘s ‘Ten Debut Novelists’ of 2021
Harper’s Bazaar‘s ‘Five Debut Female Authors to Read This Summer’

‘Powerful and heartbreaking’
Observer

‘Gripping… Razak painstakingly paints a portrait of a family; their rituals, their private languages, their shared lives’
The Times

‘Both a heartbreaking and heart-warming story, Melody Razak’s debut transports the reader into the home of a Brahmin family in 1940s Delhi… The character portrayal is so intricate that as the plot twists and turns, you’ll truly care what happens to them’
Independent


‘Assured and powerful’
Harper’s Bazaar

‘One of the best debuts I’ve ever read. It made my heart swell’
Sarah Winman, author of Tin Man and Still Life

‘A stunning, powerful work by a brave new voice in British fiction’
Anna Hope, author of Expectation

‘Powerful and moving… Every character springs from the page’
Clare Chambers, author of Small Pleasures


Delhi, 1946

Ma
and Bappu are liberal intellectuals teaching at the local university. Their fourteen year-old daughter – precocious, headstrong Alma – is soon to be married: Alma is mostly interested in the wedding shoes and in spinning wild stories for her beloved younger sister Roop, a restless child obsessed with death.

Times are bad for girls in India. The long-awaited independence from British rule is heralding a new era of hope, but also of anger and distrust. Political unrest is brewing, threatening to unravel the rich tapestry of Delhi – a city where different cultures, religions and traditions have co-existed for centuries.

When Partition happens and the British Raj is fractured overnight, this wonderful family is violently torn apart, and its members are forced to find increasingly desperate ways to survive.

But the resilience of the human spirit is an extraordinary thing…


MEET THE FAMILY AT THE HEART OF MOTH:

Alma: the beating heart of the novel. We meet her as a precocious 14-year old who becomes entangled with the chaos of Partition with devastating consequences

Roop: Alma’s younger sister. Obsessed with death, she is a fierce, funny and rather wild child trying to make sense of the destruction that has befallen her family

Ma and Bappu: their dream of an independent India collapses under the weight of History. Ma’s experience mirrors that of the many Indian women who were hoping for new freedom under an independent India – and had to face more harassment and insecurity instead

And many more: the Muslim nanny, forced to hide in a water tank; the widowed house-keeper whose mission is to keep the family together; the old grandmother, obsessed with the family’s honour and determined to preserve it no matter the cost…

Reviews

Moth is a powerful and moving story of a liberal, Brahmin family caught up in the violence and social unrest of post-partition India. It is written with absolute fidelity to the small rituals of daily life, the allegiances and jealousies within families, and the huge and overwhelming forces of history. Every character springs from the page, involving the reader completely in their triumphs and sufferings - the writer's skill and sympathy are immense. I loved it.
Clare Chambers, author of SMALL PLEASURES
I was utterly transported by Moth. In exquisite prose, Melody Razak takes us right to the heart and the heat of Partition-era Delhi - a fracturing city, a fracturing nation and a family attempting to hold themselves together when everything threatens to tear them apart. Moth is a rare, winged delight - able to stare unflinchingly into the darkness, while always illuminated by a fierce love for life. A stunning, powerful work by a brave new voice in British fiction.
Anna Hope, author of EXPECTATION
Powerful and heartbreaking... The book's primary and unflinching focus is the female members of the household: Ma, her daughters Alma and Roop, among others, all drawn with such skill and love that they remain with you long after the final sentence.
OBSERVER (Ten Debut Novelists of 2021)
I adored Moth. It's rare for a writer to appear fully-formed, but that's how I see Melody Razak: this is a remarkable novel and one of the best debuts I've ever read. It made my heart swell.
Sarah Winman, author of TIN MAN and STILL LIFE
From the first beautiful and terrifying pages I couldn't put Moth down. The assurance of tone, the loving faithfulness to the complexity of family dynamics and female experience , the celebration of humanity and resilience amid the horrors of Partition all make for one of the most immersive reading experiences I can remember. I loved this book.
Sally Magnusson, author of THE SEALWOMAN'S GIFT
Gripping... Razak painstakingly paints a portrait of a family; their rituals, their private languages, their shared lives. This careful characterisation pays off, heartbreakingly, when the horrors of partition wreak havoc on small, happy lives.
THE TIMES
Both a heartbreaking and heart-warming story, Melody Razak's debut transports the reader into the home of a Brahmin family in 1940s Delhi. She navigates their beautiful yet complicated relationships as India builds up to and enters Partition... Razak hones in on the strength and suffering of women; with moments as small as sharing stories, cooking food and plaiting hair becoming lifelines... Moth has a backdrop of religion, politics, class and violence, but the central focus is on family life. The character portrayal is so intricate that as the plot twists and turns, you'll truly care what happens to them. 9/10
INDEPENDENT