Meera Syal is a writer, actress, playwright, comic and novelist. She wrote the screenplays for the films Bhaji on the Beach and the multi-award-winning My Sister Wife. Her TV work includes 3 BBC hit series, The Real McCoy, The Kumars at No 42 and Goodness Gracious Me. She scripted the musical Bombay Dreams, which opened this summer in London. Anita and Me, her first novel, won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize. Her second novel, Life Isn't All Ha-Ha, Hee-Hee, was published in 1999.
Syal's debut paints a humorous and quirky portrait of a 1960s British mining town and a young girl stuck between her Punjabi family and her white, working-class neighbors. Meena Kumar, one of four nonwhite kids in her school, spends her time eavesdropping on the Yard Ladies, lying to her parents, perfecting her accent, and chasing after Anita Rutter and her gang. Even the arrival of a new brother and a visit from her grandmother do not manage to keep Meena out of trouble. It is only when Meena stands up to Anita's racist boyfriend, Sam, that things begin to change. Syal gives the reader a real feel for the neighborhood and its residents. At times you can almost smell the fish fingers and hear the Yard Ladies yelling back and forth over their fences. Syal has a gift of comedy that she uses to weave this delightful story. Recommended.‘Editha Ann Wilberton, Kansas City P.L., Kan.