The Cloud Messenger by Aamer Hussein

From The Telegraph:

Cloud-messenge_1882494f The title of this taut new novel from Aamer Hussein comes from a legend, in which clouds carry messages of love from separated lovers across the world. Relationships, and their varying levels of permanence, are thus the main theme, as we follow the narrator, Mehran (who appears sometimes in the first person, sometimes in the third, adding to the novel’s dreamlike quality), in his tangled encounters. Mehran’s youth, as a scion of a grand family in India, prepares him for adulthood in that he learns never to put too much faith in friends: they come and go, for him, like clouds, as he switches from city to city, country to country. His cultured relatives feed him poetry and stories; he ends by studying Urdu and Persian in London.

Hussein’s evocation of Mehran’s early childhood is precise and therefore of almost photographic vividness. The extraordinary – Mehran’s mother has shot a crocodile, while his aunt has bagged a tiger – rubs against the everyday, as the children long for rain and Enid Blyton. This mixing of the magical and the mundane is also key to the book. In London, Mehran finds his first fixed friendships, with Riccarda, an older, married woman who loves dancing till dawn, yet who has a son not much younger than Mehran himself; and with Marco, a wild, good-looking Italian boy who gets all the girls, and yet with whom Mehran has the tiniest of erotic frissons.

More here.