The figurative language of Reema Patel

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about some similes from Reema Patel…

Reema Patel is a Canadian writer and lawyer based in Toronto who has spent the last ten years working in provincial and municipal governments. Born in Canada to a South Asian family, Patel did an internship in Mumbai, before going to law school, working in the youth non-profit sector and in human rights advocacy.

Her novel arising out of this experience, which is her first book, Such Big Dreams, won the Penguin Random House Student Award for Fiction at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies and an Amazon Best Book of 2022 award.

It also earned rave reviews in the media, including from Publisher’s Weekly, which said,  “… riveting … With a captivating arc and solid character development, the story highlights the impact of greed in a poverty-stricken Mumbai. It’s a powerful debut.”

I found the book deeply affecting and hard to put down. I read it in two days. I also appreciated her facility with simile. Here are my favourite examples:

  • Someone’s shrieking child is always chasing someone else’s bleating goat. And when India wins a cricket match, firecrackers burst in the lanes like fistfuls of corn popping.
  • Last night, flash rains banged down on my leaky tin roof like a herd of sharp-clawed cats.
  • The think band of his bright yellow underwear peeks up over his brown khaki pants, like a sunrise.
  • Rakhi Tilak floated serenely through the shouting and chaos like a tiny bubble above a freshly poured soft drink… She was much smaller than I thought a movie star would be.

And even if you don’t read her book, check out a piece she wrote for LitHub under the headline, “What Writing a Book on India Showed Me About Colonial Myths.” It describes the inspiration for her novel and reveals her to be a thoughtful and questioning writer.

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