Book Review: ‘Mister, Mister’ by Guy Gunaratne


Book Title: Mister, Mister
Author: Guy Gunaratne
Publisher: Tinder Press
Number of Pages: 384
ISBN: 978-1472250247
Date Published: May 25, 2023
Price: INR 696

Mister, Mister by Guy Gunaratne Book Cover

Book Review

Guy Gunaratne’s work “Mister, Mister” digs into the complicated identity of Yahya Bas, a young Muslim man who struggles with his sense of self in a culture where he is viewed as a threat. The narrative, set in London, examines themes of isolation, radical self-discovery, and the yearning for familial connection.

Yahya’s story emerges in shards, vividly portraying his life and difficulties. He grows up with the assumption that he is a monster, a perspective fostered by social dread and prejudice toward young Muslims. Yahya experiences a significant metamorphosis while trying to find his long-lost father, eventually realizing his ability for religious poetry. Taking the name Al-Bayn, which means “in-between” in Arabic, he finds peace in expressing himself via his work.

The narrative, although entertaining, is as chaotic and dramatic as a pirate radio broadcast, echoing Yahya’s struggles and encounters with the world around him. Gunaratne’s writing style is intriguing and surprising, enthralling readers with its linguistic virtuosity and rich imagery. With his captivating yet imperfect personality, the protagonist draws readers into his path of self-discovery and questions the concept of social conventions. Regarding the author’s writing style, Guy Gunaratne’s prose exudes inventiveness, provocation, and political mileage.

While the novel is full of energy and excitement, it also delves into quiet times, hermeticism, and the riddle of the protagonist’s identity. Gunaratne deftly intertwines themes of Britishness and alienation, highlighting the complexity of multiculturalism and the fight for acceptance encountered by marginalized people. To be more specific, the novel addresses significant societal concerns while providing a new viewpoint on the lives of young Muslims in modern society. Gunaratne’s ability to combine brutal realism with beautiful language makes this novel an engaging and fascinating read. It serves as a reminder of the power of self-discovery, the tenacity of the human spirit, and the necessity of accepting one’s real identity regardless of the challenges encountered.

To recap, the tale is told in the voice of Yayha, a British-Iraqi terror suspect imprisoned, and it oscillates between self-pity and self-regard, generating an aura of mystery and emotional flatness. Author Gunaratne conveys Yahya’s desire and seclusion with vibrant writing that draws readers into the depths of his experiences.

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In “Mister, Mister,” we see a coming-of-age story about radical self-invention, the dogged quest of a long-lost father, and the discovery of an alternate way of being in the world. Yahya’s personality is defined by restlessness, fixation, and great rage and loneliness, converting him into a volatile emotional powder keg. The story is a thrilling and sensitive examination of Yahya’s journey, infused with enormous creativity.

Finally, “Mister, Mister” unearths the complexity of human existence and presents an invitation to embrace the unlimited possibility for self-discovery and progress via compelling storytelling. This writing style connects with readers and is enticed by the narrative’s bracing and vivid nature.

The book review first appeared in Storizen Magazine June 2023 Issue.