Sunday, December 6, 2015

Book Tour: The Migrant Report by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar (Interview, Review, Excerpt, Giveaway)

The Migrant Report

by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar

Literary Crime
print & ebook, 264 pages
June 29, 2015
Crimes in Arabia #1

The penalty for stealing is losing your hand. No wonder Ali can leave his wallet overnight in his office. Yet 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?

My Thoughts

The Migrant Report is an enlightening story. It shows the other part of the world that sometimes we overlook. The truth will hit you. In my country, Indonesia, these cases happen too. It might be in different form but the results are the same. Injustice and sometimes death.

The different points of views in every chapters helped me immensely in understanding people's motive. Such as Laxmi. She was a mother to a daughter and soon another child. She needed the money to give her child equal education to the Americans. It was two sides of a coin. A difficult choice for her indeed.

Ali, a police officer, had childhood defect that prevented him from getting the job he had been trained for a long time. This also caused some problems in his family. When he met Maryam, a struggling university student, in the construction site, he cannot help but start to like her more. Maryam was assigned by his professor, Paul, to write a fresh article other than the latest fashion. So she decided to go to the camp to search more. Along the way, she saw the dead body that kept her thinking about her life.

Manu wanted to find a new life in the country where his sister worked. When he arrived in Qatar, he never expected that his contract was changed and he was not working in office like his sister said. Instead, he worked in Arabian Gulf and life was never the same ever since.

There are several social issues written, like the inequality between men and women. It was unheard of that women go to the university. It was better that they get married and take care of the house. And then Ali that felt like he was a half-man. The inequality was no different. Maybe it was even more burden for Ali since he had sisters, he had to think about.

I really enjoyed the flow of the story and the cultural insights. Great book, Mohana!

My Interview with the Author

FL: When did you start writing?

MR: I started writing in 2000 when I took a creative writing class as part of my Masters degree in literature. Before that I had written a short story for a teacher in middle school and also a medieval romance novel in high school!

FL: It had been a really long time. Next, what is your inspiration in writing The Migrant Report?

MR: I love the potential for crime thrillers to be social critique and saw that life in the Gulf is prime opportunity to use the genre to talk about social inequalities.

FL: Interesting! Do you have your own writing space? If so, how does it look like?

MR: I use my office at the university during the week and a brown chaise lounge in my bedroom on the weekends :).

FL: Tell yourself in 140 characters. Like tweet :)

MR: Modern mother, writer, wife. Trying to do it all, but not all at the same time.

FL: What are you working on right now?

MR: Two sequels: one to The Migrant Report, the other for Love Comes Later

FL: I can't wait to read the sequel! What is your dream?

MR: To do adaptations of my books into stage plays and film.

FL: If you're not a writer, what do you do?

MR: I also teach university courses in writing and literature.

FL: What is your hobby?

MR: Reading is probably the first activity I remember loving. Reading is really what led me into writing my own stories.

FL: Do you want to change the world? If so, how?

MR: We can change world with the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Rule number 1: Take nothing personally.

FL: What is your definition of fun?

MR: Laughing: as loud and as long as possible. If shared, even better!


Manu knelt, bowing his head to his mother’s feet for what might be the last time, the bluish-green veins on the back of her hand trembling under his lips as if the pulse of life inside her were buoyed by his. If this were a Bollywood movie, he forced himself to think of the scene in less personal terms, the music would be slow and reedy, the camera panning out to a doe-eyed girl, crying about the devoted son. He clutched the fine bones of her hand until his mother turned in her sleep, the slope of her nose pressing into the pillow, her restless limbs tossing on the woven mat on the dirt floor.

Her sari rode up to reveal her calves, the ant bites scattered like the moon’s craters across her muscles. This wasn’t a Bollywood movie. He was no hero who could strengthen his mother’s aging body. The veins around her ankles were the twisted roots of an ailing tree. His sister, Meena, wrung a stained handkerchief and dabbed the frail forehead.

The driver of the microbus beeped, this time long, the high-pitched bleat of a wounded animal.

“I’ll send something as soon as I can,” Manu said. The sight of his mother’s feverish petite frame filled his vision, dominating the small cement structure that was home to five of his siblings and their mother.

Turning so his younger siblings would not see the tears slipping out the corner of his eye, he made for the low-ceilinged entrance. The youngest ones, Raju and Ram, the unlikely fruit of his mother’s dwindling years, clutched at each of his knees and whimpered. They were six years old.

Outside, the horn sounded again, causing their cow to give a low bleating answer. Their family, like most in their village, had fresh milk, and a garden fertilized by homemade manure. His siblings could grow up the way he had, on a plentiful vegetable garden, playing in the long grass, and doing household chores,living from their eldest sister’s wage, a replacement for their deceased father’s business.

His mother’s long illness had drained their resources. The shadow of the Maoists lingered, the tendrils of fear reaching all men of Manu’s age.

“Soon.” Meena repeated the word, her lips pressed tight. She nodded as if this were a guaranteed date. “We used Didi’s salary for the medicine.”

Meena had been a child when her older sister had gone off to work. She was still too young to manage a household, but there was no one else. She followed him to the front wheel of the microbus with his bag. He didn’t have much to take for his job as an office worker, but that was good, because more would not have fit in the passenger area.

“Say hello to Didi for us.” Meena handed off the bag and attempted a half- smile.

“I’ll tell her first thing.” He ducked into the cab’s once-cream interior. The driver hacked a cough, opening his door to spit.

“Bus station?”

“How long?” Manu asked, though he knew the answer. “How many stops?” His mother would have chided him for his incessant questions.

“Two hours,” the man grunted, picking his teeth with a splintered toothpick.

The tears flowed unchecked. Manu turned to the side, the hot breeze little comfort as the microbus bumped the unpaved road from his village to the bigger one next door. To the bus station that would take him to Kathmandu. To the airplane that would take him to his new life. A life that would allow him to revive his mother from subsisting on the meager vegetables of their garden.

He dozed off, despite their halting progress over uneven dirt roads. “Make room,” the driver said. The microbus slowed to a stop.

A man in a button-down shirt, hair slicked with oil, eyes wide with promise, boarded the auto. Manu slid behind the driver, putting his feet on either side of the bag.

“Great day for a journey!” His companion bounced on the seat like one of the twins. Manu offered a smile that didn’t raise the corners of his lips. The auto began again. The driver coaxed the vehicle ever faster, which was more difficult to do now with the added weight.

“I am Hitesh.”


Hitesh shared a continuous stream of thoughts. This was the furthest he had ever gone from his village. How, he contemplated, did airplanes manage to stay in the sky? He wondered if he could learn to cook quickly enough to avoid starving.

These preoccupations had occurred to Manu as well in the months preparing for his new job as an office worker in the Gulf state, but he had an ace card that Hitesh lacked.

Manu’s eldest sister, Sanjana, had been working abroad for years. Her salary had kept the family afloat, at least until their father had been killed.

Manu could have joined the army or started a shop with the leftovers of his father’s trading connections and risked the Maoists’ wrath. These had been Manu’s choices once the Maoists had gotten hold of his businessman father trading in a village west of Butwal. As he had contemplated the options, Nepal’s civil war ripped away any sense of security.

“You know my family, they pay everything for me to have this job.” Hitesh bounced on the seat with the jolts from the potholes. May as well have been with excitement, Manu thought wryly.

“I have to borrow money to get my ticket, and to pay for finding the job, and even this bus ride.” Hitesh ticked these off on his fingers. His calculations were staggering.

“How will you pay this?” Manu asked, despite himself, drawn into the conversation.

Hitesh shrugged. “The man from the agency say they will take it from my salary, until debt is finished.”

Manu looked out the window. He hoped his relief didn’t show. Sanjana had been saving money for him for several years. Well, for him to go to university in the capital, to study, become educated, like their father would have wanted. The money had gone to pay for all these fees that Hitesh was outlining, using up most of their savings. There were worse things than not attending university, Manu thought. Like being in debt to a company you didn’t know.

About 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.

Tour Giveaway

One of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of The Migrant Report

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Hi!
    I'm so glad you could join us on the tour! I was drawn to the book in hopes of learning a little more about a culture I knew little about - and I'm glad you found it good that way too - I found it difficult and emotionally trying at times, but loved the language and the new words I learned :)

    When you have a moment, if you could cross post your review to Amazon and/or Goodreads, I know the author would really appreciate it!

  2. Me too.I like learning new things so this book is really awesome.
    I crossed post my review already