The Khan

Saima Mir

Waterstones Thriller of the Month for May 2022

Longlisted for the Jhalak Prize for Book of the Year by a Writer of Colour 2022

Be twice as good as men and four times as good as white men.

Jia Khan has always lived like this.

A successful lawyer, her London life is a long way from the grubby Northern streets she knew as a child, where her father headed up the Pakistani community and ran the local organised crime syndicate. Often his Jirga rule – the old way – was violent and bloody, but it was always justice of a kind.

But now her father, Akbar Khan, has been murdered and Jia must return to take his place. In the past, the police relied on him to maintain the fragile order of the streets. But a power struggle has broken out amongst the various communities and now, nobody is safe.

Justice needs to be restored, and Jia is about to discover that justice always comes at a price.

Media Reviews

‘A fascinating glimpse into a world rarely portrayed in fiction.’ – Guardian, best crime and thrillers

‘Bold, addictive and brilliant.’ – Stylist, best fiction 2021

‘This impressive debut is not only about crime, justice, race and prejudice, but also about self-deception, disillusion and how the people you love most can be those you can bear least.’  – Times and Sunday Times, book of the year

‘Compelling and gritty’ – Cosmopolitan

‘Intense drama. The information  she  imparts  is  often  eye-popping… This impressive debut reveals a world in which monsters exist “in the guise of friends and behind smiling faces”. It is a considerable achievement.’ – The Times, best crime fiction

‘The Khan is strong on illuminating the networks of family and community, giving fresh life to its familiar plot – essentially a Bradford take on The Godfather.’   – Mail on Sunday, Best New Fiction

‘With The Khan, Saima Mir delivers a once-in-a-generation crime-thriller and in Jia Khan has created a female South-Asian protagonist who is fierce, passionate and absolutely compelling. This is not simply black-and-white on the page. It’s blood. It’s emotion. It’s tears, anger, betrayal and revenge. An outstanding debut which deserves to be read widely.’ – A.A.Dhand, author of Streets of Darkness

‘A tremendous debut (Jia Khan is a fascinating, multi-layered protagonist). Timely, authentic, immersive and powerful. Hints of The Godfather. SUPERB.’ – Will Dean, author of the Tuva Moodyson mysteries

‘It takes guts to pick up the plot of The Godfather, pull it apart and reassemble it in the streets of a small northern city with a passing resemblance to Bradford but that is what Saima Mir has done… An eye-opening look at a world that rarely makes it into fiction… Jia could be coming to our screens soon, but I’m more interested in what Mir does next.’   – Evening Standard

‘When her father is murdered, Jia is plunged into a brutal power struggle among the communities, which — while Akbar was alive — the police counted on him to control… Does Jia become Michael Corleone to survive?’ – Daily Mail

‘Blown away by the intricacy of such a clever, complex plot and the sense of unease.’ – Huma Qureshi, author of How we Met

‘A brilliant debut from an exciting new voice for our times. A thrilling book with a thrilling hero in Jia. Brava.’  – Imran Mahmood, author of You Don’t Know Me

‘It’s an amazing piece of work and very timely at the moment… An amazing sense of place and time. I’m sure it’s going to be a sensational debut.’ – Lesley McEvoy, author of The Murder Mile

‘Superb. In particular the character development is excellent. I’m going to have to step up my game just to keep up. Damn you, Saima!’ – Khurrum Rahman, author of the Jay Qasim series

‘Jia is incredibly compelling without being simply likeable. It’s a joy to read a book set in northern England that does not veer into cliche. It’s so good on motherhood, morality and gender.’  – Nell Frizzell, author of The Panic Years

‘Saima Mir’s debut, The Khan, traces its lineage to such classics as Mario Puzo’s seminal work The Godfather: it is the story of a British Asian woman hailing from an organised crime family, the daughter of a first generation immigrant, who rejects the family business but is ultimately pulled into the vacuum left by her father’s death. Mir’s novel pulls no punches, taking aim at cultural stereotypes, sacred cows, and the attitudes and morality of the community within which the story is based. The book operates on various levels: crime family saga, character study, and an exploration of clan-run organised crime. A sterling debut.’  – Vaseem Khan, author of The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra

‘I found myself hooked not only by the fast-paced crime plot but also by the fact that, for the first time, I had encountered a female South Asian protagonist in literature.’ – Ghazal Abbasi, Guardian

‘A more than promising debut in which a London lawyer reluctantly takes over her father’s criminal organisation… An excellent novel.’ – Mark Sanderson, The Times Crime Club

‘Saima Mir reinvents the gangster genre with dark lyrical prose that explores trauma, being an outsider, white privilege and revenge. Jia Khan is the enigmatic female lead we have been waiting for. I loved this book and can’t wait to see whom Jia visits her vicious yet calculated brand of justice on next.’   – LV Hay, author of The Other Twin

‘A tour de force that grabs you by the lapels and doesn’t let you go till the end… Jia Khan is one of the toughest, smartest characters created in years. Don’t even THINK about calling her feisty.’ – Eleni Kyriacou, author of She Came To Stay

‘This debut crime thriller unapologetically turns the classic genre on its head… Think of a classic crime novel…and your brain will probably take you straight to Mario Puzo’s 1969 classic, The Godfather. Not anymore. After today’s release of British-Pakistani journalist Saima Mir’s debut novel, it’s The Khan (Oneworld) that will dominate… Jia Khan is a fiercely modern anti-heroine – it’s no surprise that The Khan has already been optioned by BBC Studios.’ – Stylist loves

‘The Khan is a dark, gripping thriller that subverts the usual “women as victims” narrative of crime fiction. Mir’s writing is complex and evocative and The Khan is a fantastic read, sure to catch you in its clutches and not let you go until the final, heart pounding pages.’  – Bookbag

‘The crime genre is red-hot right now and the book that burned the brightest was the scorching debut from Saima Mir… The stereotype-smashing protagonist who sets fire to weak images of Muslim females is breathtakingly brilliant and lights up a gripping thriller that had readers hooked.’ – Eastern Eye, book of the year

‘It’s invigorating to hear voices from communities that are out there but don’t often make centre stage in crime fiction. Let’s celebrate The Khan for that insight into British life… The Godfather retold as a feminist tale with the romantic notions of wise guys obliterated. Jia is a strong woman, a fascinatingly original character… A truly outstanding debut novel.’    – New Books magazine

‘This is riveting… I want to be Jia Khan. Heroines like this were not on my radar before!… What a phenomenal read. I’m loving reading this.’ – Dr Shobna Gulati, author of Remember Me?

 ‘A unique and compelling read.’ – The Skinny

‘A forceful British debut set in an unnamed city reminiscent of Bradford at the centre of its Pakistani and crime community… Fast moving and involving.’  – Crime Time

‘An intense book, definitely relevant to the contemporary world where women still struggle to hold positions of power, combat racist and sexual attacks and climb the ladder while holding the front at home as conventional homemakers. Saima’s writing is impeccably visual… Mir breaks that glass ceiling and uses a bit of Urdu and Punjabi at some places to give you a sense of belonging, a sense of community. If you enjoy a good Agatha Christie thriller, you’ll enjoy Mir’s venture into the world of Jia Khan.’  – Asian Voice

‘Saima Mir has written an extraordinary debut novel, the exploits of Jia Khan will keep you gripped until the final pages and leave you wanting more. Mir also gives important insights into the British Asian lived experience, which resonate throughout. Not a word is wasted.’ – Jennifer Smith, British Film Institute

‘This is an excellent debut and hopefully the start of a fantastic new series! Absolutely loved the ending, great new author to follow right from the beginning, I feel this could be a real eye opener of a series. It’s certainly going to keep you on the edge of your seat. Most definitely recommended.’ – Fiona Sharp, Bookseller

‘Just fantastic… Take a bow Saima Mir, you have nailed it with your powerful debut thriller, that has blown me away… Wow what a debut.’ – Surjit’s Books Blog

‘In the summer blockbuster you’ve been looking for, Mir explores justice, honour and the insidious impact of Britain’s racism with a crime story that centres around the formidable lawyer Jia… she’s slap-bang in a Godfather-esque struggle for control, with grand plot twists that’ll leave your head spinning. Hopefully it’s the first in a series…’ – Sytlist, Ultimate Reading List

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