Stealing Nasreen


a novel by Farzana Doctor

Print: 978-0-9782233-0-4 – $22.95
ePUB: 978-1-9267080-8-9 – $9.99
PDF: 978-1-7713317-1-5 – $9.99

228 Pages
June 01, 2007

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Stealing Nasreen is a novel about the lives of three very different people, all of whom belong to the same small religious community. Set in Toronto with back story in Mumbai, Nasreen Bastawala, an Indo-Canadian lesbian and burnt-out psychologist, becomes enmeshed in the lives of Shaffiq and Salma Paperwala, new immigrants from Mumbai.

While working in the same Toronto hospital as Nasreen, Shaffiq develops a persistent and confusing fascination with Nasreen, causing him to bring home and hide things he “finds” in her office. Salma, his wife, discovers some of these hidden treasures and suspects that something is amiss. Unbeknownst to Shaffiq, Nasreen begins attending weekly Gujarati classes taught by Salma, who finds herself inexplicably attracted to her student. This attraction harkens back memories and regrets Salma holds about a lesbian affair that ended badly years ago.

Nasreen has troubles of her own. She recently broke up with her cheating girlfriend and still has mixed feelings about her, and their relationship. She is also dealing with her father, who has become demanding and clingy ever since the death of her mother a couple of years before.

Without knowing that it is happening, Nasreen becomes the centre of Shaffiq and Salma’s lives. Each keeps a secret about Nasreen, and in so doing risks their marriage, while Nasreen struggles to come to terms with her mother’s death, her recent break-up, and her new relationship with her father. An impulsive kiss between Salma and Nasreen sets off a surprising course of events.


for information about upcoming readings, past interviews or reviews of Stealing Nasreen, go to www.farzanadoctor.wordpress.com



Farzana Doctor is a queer South Asian writer in Toronto. She has been writing for many years and is currently working on her second novel. Her fiction and poetry has been published in Siren Magazine, Trikone, Sightlines 7 Anthology and Aurat Durbar. She has also had chapters published in edited books, co-written a manual for therapists, co-written plays and co-produced a documentary. She is employed as a social worker, educator and consultant.


3 reviews for Stealing Nasreen

  1. InannaWebmaster

    Review by Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, September 2, 2013
    See the review on blogTO by Debbi Ohi, July 4, 2007:

    ”This is a book swirling with romance, magic, food and dreams, family at the eye of every storm. Farzana Doctor’s urbane and witty voice deftly narrates the complex ironies of diaspora life and all of its queer contradictions. This novel will take you on a journey full of delicious secrets and all the various meanings of home.“
    —MARUSYA BOCIURKIW, author of Comfort Food for Breakups: The Memoir of a Hungry Girl

  2. InannaWebmaster

    Highlights of Susan G. Cole’s NOW review:

    “There’s an awful lot going on in Farzana Doctor’s fascinating first novel, Stealing Nasreen. Touching on themes of grief, desire and assimilation, Doctor lays out an ambitious array of characters and dilemmas and, for the most part, pulls them together with admirable skill…A terrific touch comes via an erotically tinged painting of a rani and her servant that hangs in their home. The rani’s expression seems to change depending on whether she’s expressing amusement or disdain for the secrets the two must conceal…you can tell from reading Stealing Nasreen that the author knows a lot about life. This unique contribution to CanLit probes the problems and joys of creating an open, diverse society.”

    NOW | JUNE 7 – 13, 2007 | VOL. 26 NO. 40 For full review, see: http://www.nowtoronto.com/issues/2007-06-07/books_reviews.php

  3. InannaWebmaster

    Highlights of Tara Lee’s Quill and Quire Review:

    “The process of leaving one’s country and finding a sense of belonging in another is often rife with uncertainty and turmoil. What makes Stealing Nasreen such a riveting read is the way it takes this uncertainty and makes it even more complex by adding sexuality and desire to the angst-filled immigrant experience.

    Stealing Nasreen reveals the intricacies of human relationships, but more importantly, it is an eye-opening critique of the multicultural dream. The Paperwalas exist apart from a mainstream society that sees them as anonymous Indian immigrants. These characters challenge anonymity as they work through their own unique needs and wants… In the end, these characters discover that belonging is a continuous and maddening act of reaching for the elusive.” July, 2007.

    For full review see: http://www.quillandquire.com/reviews/

    Farzana was on CBC’s Metro Morning, Here and Now, and Big City Small World. Here’s a link to mention in Here and Now’s website: http://www.cbc.ca/hereandnowtoronto/books.html
    XTRA!’s Joshua Ginsberg recently did a piece about Farzana:http://www.xtra.ca/public/viewstory.aspx?AFF_TYPE=3&STORY_ID=3193&PUB_TEMPLATE_ID=3
    have a look (it’s halfway down).

    Farzana interviewed by Nick Davis of the Toronto Sun:

    Debbie Ridpath Ohi recently interviewed Farzana for BlogTO:http://www.blogtom.com/author/debbie

    Enza the Supermodel dropped by the book launch and took this photo:http://metronews.ca/column.aspx?id=60226

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