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Welcome to the Middle East where People are Still People

Today I'd like to tell you about a book that I think the world really needs to read. Sure, you could read it for the beautiful, flowing prose and vivid descriptions, for the memorable and lifelike characters, for the exciting plot–but there's so much more to The Migrant Report than that.

The Migrant Report by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar tells its tale in a beautiful tapestry of interwoven stories from characters living in a tiny, affluent Middle Eastern country that many of us probably never think about in the course of our day-to-day lives. The story unfolds by giving a series of snapshots of various key players whose lives are touched by the sinister greed of “The Agency.”

There were characters I could easily relate to like Cindy, the immigrant Western woman living a cushy life as a professor's wife; or Maryam, the university student trying so hard to prove her worth beyond that of the power and wealth she inherited from her family. Then there's Manu and Ali, characters' whose lives I can't even begin to fathom outside of the context of the story–a poor Nepali immigrant arriving in the emirate for a low-level job with the Agency in hopes of improving the lives of his family back home, and a cop whose physical deformity is judged harshly and unduly impacts his career.

We meet these characters and others, all of whom are simply trying to prove themselves, to be better than they were yesterday, to not be held back by society's expectations of them. Whether that's due to their immigrant status, their gender, nationality, or education–they all have something in common beyond the events of the story.

What struck me most while reading is how different–yet, at the same time, how familiar–each of their lives seemed to me, a middle class American woman also trying to prove myself in my own unique ways. The setting is different, the customs are different, but the basic humanness is the same. Yes, some of these characters are Muslim, some are Hindu, some are immigrants seeking a better life than the one they left behind. But in the end they are just people doing the best they can while the powerful Agency, concerned only of its bottom line, squeezes whatever it can from each of them–in some cases their lives.

Beautiful, thrilling, and above all relatable, The Migrant Report is a must-read for anyone who needs to be reminded that in the end–Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Atheist–we are all ultimately just people doing the best that we can.

themigrantreport-188x300About the book: The penalty for stealing is losing your hand. No wonder Ali can leave his wallet overnight in his office. Crime hovers on the fringes of society, under the veneer of utopia. Police captain Ali's hopes of joining the elite government forces are dashed when his childhood deformity is discovered. His demotion brings him face to face with the corruption of labor agencies and also Maryam, an aspiring journalism student, who is unlike any local girl he has ever met. Ali and his unlikely sidekick must work together to find the reason so many laborers are dying. Against the glittery backdrop of the oil rich Arabian Gulf, Ali pursues a corrupt agency that will stop at nothing to keep their profits rising. As the body count rises, so does the pressure to settle the source. Can Ali settle the score before the agency strikes again? Get The Migrant Report through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

author photo 2015About the author: Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar’s award winning books have focused on various aspects of life in the Arabian Gulf nation of Qatar. From Dunes to Dior is a collection of essays related to her experiences as a female South Asian American living in the Arabian Gulf and named as Indie Book of the Day in 2013. Love Comes Later is a literary romance set in Qatar and London and was the winner of the Best Indie Book Award for Romance in 2013, short listed for the New Talent award by the Festival of Romance, and Best Novel Finalist in eFestival of Words, 2013. She currently lives with her family in Qatar, where she teaches writing and literature courses at American universities. Connect with Mohanalakshmi on her website, Facebook, or Twitter.

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