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Footnote Press to publish ‘polyphonic’ debut novel by immigration solicitor and activist, Tawseef Khan

Footnote Press has acquired Determination, the debut novel from author and immigration solicitor, Tawseef Khan.

Former Footnote commissioning editor, Rose Green, acquired UK & Commonwealth rights from Matthew Turner at RCW. Editorial director, Fritha Saunders will take over publication.

Jamila Shah is twenty-nine and exhausted. An immigration solicitor tasked with running the precious family law firm, Jamila is prone to being woken in the middle of the night by frantic phone calls from clients on the cusp of deportation. Working under the shadow of the government’s ‘hostile environment’, she constantly prays and hopes that their ‘determinations’ will result in her clients being allowed to stay. With no time for friends, family or even herself (never mind a needy partner), Jamila’s life feels hectic and out of control. Then a breakdown of sorts forces her to seek change – to pursue her own happiness while navigating the endless expectations that the world seems to have of her, and still committing herself to a career devoted to helping others.

In this polyphonic, assured and character-driven debut, we meet the staff of Shah & Co Solicitors, who themselves arrived in the UK not too long ago, and their clients, more recent arrivals who are made to jump through hoops to create a life for themselves whilst trying to achieve some semblance of normality.

Footnote Press said: ‘From the moment we read it, we knew Determination was the perfect fit for Footnote. Tawseef’s beautiful novel illustrates an underexplored aspect of immigration with empathy, verve and humour – in Jamila he has created a character who finds herself stretched to her limits by a hostile political system, yet whose path to self-determination includes the clients, colleagues and friends it has brough to her. Determination is a testament to the families we are born into and the ones we create around ourselves; it is also an unflinching indictment of Theresa May’s immigration policy, and offers a vision of what our future might hold.’

Tawseef Khan said: Determination is an incredibly personal book to me, one that I spent almost seven years trying to get right. It’s a look behind the culture war on immigration, yes, but it’s also about families, freedom, belonging, and one woman’s attempt to balance how much she can devote to the cause with how much she must hold back for herself. I’m so proud and excited to have found a home with Footnote, a publisher that understands how the story of migration is the story of humankind, and especially grateful for Footnote’s immediate understanding, vision and ambition to get this story to its readers.’

Tawseef Khan is a qualified immigration solicitor and holds a doctoral degree from the University of Liverpool, where he examined the fairness of the British asylum system. He is also a graduate of the creative writing programme at the University of East Anglia, where he received the Seth Donaldson Memorial Bursary. His fiction has appeared in Lighthouse and Test Signal: a Northern anthology; his non-fiction in the New York Times, The Face and Hyphen. His debut non-fiction book Muslim, Actually was published by Atlantic in 2021. He lives in Manchester.

Determination will be published in hardback, eBook and audiobook in June 2024.