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A Surrey teacher-on-call has written a gripping new novel
that challenges sexism and racism, based on current events and her upbringing
as an Afghan immigrant being raised in Canada.
Rahela Nayebzadah’s latest book is Monster Child, a
story through the eyes of three immigrant children from Afghanistan – Beh,
Shabnam and Alif – trying to find their way in an often uncaring society.
“What inspired me to write it is my own experience as an
immigrant being raised in Canada,” said Nayebzadah. “A lot of my own
experiences were put into it and just hearing stories from my own Afghan
The book is her second novel, following her autobiographical
story Jeegareh Ma, also based on her family’s migration to Canada from
Afghanistan. Though Monster Child touches on some mature subject matter,
Nayebzadah said it is suitable for teens and adults.
In reference to social movements such as Me Too, the themes
of Monster Child include sexual abuse and racism that are relevant to
the current social climate. Through the course of the book, the siblings’
experiences cause them to wonder who the “monster child” really is: Beh, who
says she is called a disease; Shabnam, who cried tears of blood; or Alif, who
says they are a family of monsters.
Ultimately, the answer is up to the reader’s interpretation.
“All these family secrets are revealed,” said Nayebzadah.
“The reader is supposed to be questioning as to who’s the monster, but they’re
all pretty much monsters in their own way. There isn’t just one monster,
they’re surrounded by it and they themselves are monsters and they’re trying to
deal with it.”
The book has been in the making for quite some time,
starting as a title and steadily coming together over the last seven years.
“It was actually supposed to be out two years ago – the
first year, it didn’t work out, and the second year, COVID happened,” said
Nayebzadah. “It feels really great to put this out, especially now more than
ever. During this pandemic, I’m hoping that people are reading more. Reading is
so important and now is the time to start reading and keep reading.”
Nayebzadah noted she hopes to turn Monster Child into
a trilogy, and has finished another manuscript for a fantasy novel.
Monster Child comes out in May 2021 and is available
for pre-order through her publisher, Wolsak & Wynn. Closer to the
publication date, it will be available at Chapters and Amazon as well.