An extraordinary story of inheritance, belonging and the stories that bind us to our past, set in modern-day London and 1920s Kashgar.
It is 1923 and Evangeline English, keen lady cyclist, arrives with her sister Lizzie at the ancient Silk Route city of Kashgar to help establish a Christian mission. Lizzie is in thrall to their forceful and unyielding leader Millicent, but Eva's motivations for leaving her bourgeois life back at home are less clear-cut. As they attempt to navigate their new home and are met with resistance and calamity, Eva commences work on her book, A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar.
In present-day London another story is beginning. Frieda, a young woman adrift in her own life, opens her front door one night to find a man sleeping on the landing. In the morning he is gone, leaving on the wall an exquisite drawing of a long-tailed bird and a line of Arabic script. Tayeb, who has fled to England from Yemen, has arrived on Frieda's doorstep just as she learns that she is the next-of-kin to a dead woman she has never heard of: a woman whose abandoned flat contains many surprises - among them an ill-tempered owl.
The two wanderers begin an unlikely friendship as their worlds collide, and they embark on a journey that is as great, and as unexpected, as Eva's.
A stunning debut peopled by unforgettable characters, A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar is an extraordinary story of inheritance and the search for belonging in a fractured and globalised world.
Suzanne Joinson works in the literature department of the British Council, and regularly travels widely across the Middle East, North Africa, China and Europe. In 2007 she won the New Writing Ventures Award for Creative Non-Fiction for 'Laila Ahmed'. She is studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, and lives by the sea on the South Coast of England.