by Farzana Doctor
A story about an all-inclusive resort, the ghost of an unknown father, and the tragedies we can’t forget.
What’s it like when everyone’s dream vacation is your job? Ameera works at a Mexican all-inclusive resort, where every day is paradise — if “paradise” means endless paperwork, quotas to meet, and entitled tourists. But it’s not all bad: Ameera’s pastime of choice is the swingers scene, and the resort is the perfect place to hook up with like-minded couples without all the hassle of having to see them again.
Despite Ameera’s best efforts to keep her sideline a secret, someone is spreading scandalous rumours about her around the resort, and her job might be at stake. Meanwhile, she’s being plagued by her other secret, the big unknown of her existence: the identity of her father and why he disappeared. Unbeknownst to Ameera, her father, Azeez, is looking for her, and they both must come to terms with the reason why he abandoned her.
A moving new work from award-winning author Farzana Doctor, All Inclusive blurs the lines between the real world and paradise, and life and death, and reminds us that love is neither easily lost nor found.
March 27, 2015, Huatulco, Mexico
A DC8 droned above.
“Here they come,” I announced. Friday was our departure-arrival day. One sunburned and grouchy group left for their northern homes, and another cohort, ecstatic and pale, touched down and took their place.
Roberto grabbed a plastic file-box and gestured for me to sit beside him. I lowered myself onto the makeshift seat and wiped away a slick of perspiration from the creases behind my knees.
“Ameera, you hear about that tour rep getting fired over at Waves?” Roberto stroked his thin moustache.
“Nancy? Yeah, I’m still in shock.” I hadn’t known her well, but I’d gone clubbing with her and the other tour reps from our sister resorts a few times. She’d seemed all right to me. The airplane circled closer, and, in unison, we clapped our hands over our ears and tilted our chins to the sky. After it had rolled across the tarmac and quieted its engines, we resumed our gossip.
“What I don’t get is why someone in their late twenties would want to have sex with a fifteen-year-old.” Roberto shook his head, as though trying to dislodge the idea.
“But didn’t the kid lie about his age? He told her he was eighteen, right?” While I’d never in a million years sleep with a teenager, I could imagine how booze and loneliness could have led Nancy to her mistake.
~Buy ALL INCLUSIVE:
AN INTERVIEW WITH FARZANA
-What inspired you to become a writer?
As a kid, I liked to write poems, plays and stories. Back then, I think I enjoyed the playfulness of writing. As an adult, I continue writing because when I don’t write, I feel like something is missing—a feeling similar to the one I have when I haven’t exercised or had my eight glasses of water.
I also feel that writing can be purposeful and powerful—artists of all kinds have the ability to change culture by increasing readers’ empathy and shifting their perspectives.
-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?
There are two worlds in All Inclusive: •
If I could enter Ameera’s all-inclusive resort for the day, I would be tempted to hang out at the beach, lolling about in the salt water. I live in Toronto, far from the ocean, and crave this experience. •
If I could enter Azeez’s spirit world, I’d catch up with my ancestors, especially my mother. Then I’d look in on my loved ones. Finally, I’d hang out with politicians and find a way to influence them to make better decisions.
-Give us a fun or interesting fact you learned researching this book.
I wanted to learn more about the diversity of swinger cultures so that I wouldn’t make the mistake of stereotyping a community. This mostly involved a lot of reading and talking to people. I ordered this amazing documentary called The Lifestyle: Swinging in America, which interviews American senior citizens. It was illuminating to see older adults exploring a still mostly taboo area of sexuality.
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
All of them! Characters have a way of entering the psyche, and they begin to feel real, almost like friends (even the villainous characters). But if I had to choose one, I’d choose Ameera’s father, Azeez. He’s the spirit character in the book, and I’d want to ask him all sorts of questions about the afterlife.
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
I don’t like to use the word never, because I think it’s good to grow as a writer. I mostly fit into contemporary literary fiction, but over my career, I’ve blurred the lines, employing bits and pieces of magical realism, LGBT, multicultural and historical fiction. So who knows? If I were to make a guess, I’d say that I’d be least likely to write fiction that has a lot of violence, only because I don’t enjoy reading or watching this genre (maybe I’m too thin skinned?).
Thanks for these questions! I’d love to see readers’ comments and answer any questions they might have.
Farzana Doctor is the author of three novels: Stealing Nasreen, Six Metres of Pavement (which was a 2012 Lambda Literary Award and the 2017 One Book One Brampton winner) and the recently released All Inclusive which was a Kobo and National Post Best Book of the Year. Farzana was named one of CBC Books’ “Ten Canadian Women Writers You Need to Read Now”. She is also a Registered Social Worker with a part-time psychotherapy practice. She curates the Brockton Writers Series.
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Farzana Doctor will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner and a print copy of the book to 10 randomly drawn winners (US Only) via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway