Join us this evening, Saturday, February 7th at 7 p.m. for the Montreal launch of Denise Roig's Brilliant, a new collection of short stories set in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Roig will read from the book, which will also be available for sale and signing! Middle Eastern delectables will be served!
Brilliant is a collection of short stories set in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, a polyglot city where cultures collide and converge, where money — and sometimes justice — is no object, where in less than two generations towers have replaced tents. In these dozen-plus stories, a mixed grill of characters — an Egyptian pastry chef, a Filipina nanny, a Canadian nurse, a cross-dressing Emirati — navigate this land of sudden plenty, discovering the limits of freedom, money, tolerance and their own good sense.
Several linked stories hinge on a hit-and-run bicycle accident in which Victor, an Australian expat, is killed. If the Emirati authorities know who’s responsible, they’re not saying. But more important than whodunit is the impact the accident has on Victor’s racing mates, each wrestling with careers, women and the complex, dangerous pleasures of expat life in the richest city in the world.
In the title story, a couple, who’ve spent their long marriage in the Gulf, are returning to Liverpool with nothing but memories of a lavish life. For all the years abroad, theirs has been a tiny, contained world, in many ways as insular as that of Asma in “Coffee,” an Emirati girl searching for meaning and a little excitement in a life of unimagined wealth and entitlement.
Folded into these everyday lives are the myths and urban legends that swirl around the place like sand. In a society where a tourist can be jailed for taking photos of the wrong monument, yet where a sheikh can traffic in drugs with impunity, an underground life springs up — rich, extreme and sometimes darkly humorous.
Denise Roig is the author of two critically received collections of short stories: A Quiet Night and a Perfect End (Nuage Editions), and Any Day Now (Signature Editions), and the memoir Butter Cream: A Year in a Montreal Pastry School (Signature Editions). Born in New York, raised in Los Angeles, and a longtime resident of Montreal, Denise moved to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, in 2008. She now lives in Hamilton, Ontario. Denise’s first collection was translated in 2000 as Le Vrai Secret du bonheur (Éditions de la Pleine Lune) and her fiction has been heard on CBC’s Between the Covers. As a journalist, Denise’s work has appeared in The Montreal Gazette and The National (Abu Dhabi). Denise is the co-editor, with her husband Raymond Beauchemin, of two anthologies of Quebec English literature: Future Tense and The Urban Wanderers Reader.