Hidden Colours

Fiction - Literary
300 Pages
Reviewed on 10/26/2018
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Hidden Colours is a work of literary fiction by author Nillu Nasser, and the book’s title describes its immigration and integration themes beautifully. Set in Berlin, the story follows two people brought together by Treptow Circus, designed to become an integration project for immigrants living and working in Berlin. Ellie is a journalist, and with her media head on she’s obligated to rail against the circus for the sake of her job, but deep down in her heart she loves the vibrancy and excitement of it all. Yusuf, a Syrian refugee, comes to the circus as his only hope of survival and acceptance, but when the big top gets more exposure than it needs, things start to go terribly wrong.

What I particularly enjoyed about Nillu Nasser’s work was that it has the high quality storytelling of a literary work but without the unnecessary length that so many of them have. In Hidden Colours, we stick close to the story and our central cast of wonderful performers and different nationalities, and though the tension of the outside world is prevalent, this is very much a tale of individual experience. Nasser brings characters to life with sharp dialogue, heartfelt atmospheric description, and some quite shocking violence which is painfully realistic to our time. Ellie and Yusuf really pave the way for an exciting future of heroes in fiction. Overall, Hidden Colours is a must-read for those who enjoy interpersonal drama and are also concerned with the cold, discriminatory hatred that’s seeping into our world.

Alyssa Elmore

A young man must choose between staying safely invisible and taking a stand for his beliefs and family in the stunning novel Hidden Colours by Nillu Nasser. Yusuf Alam has lived a quiet, hidden life in Berlin for the last two years. As a Syrian refugee, Yusuf has lived a turbulent life, filled with unspeakable horrors and grief. Working as a circus performer wasn't Yusuf's first choice of a career, but when the Berlin government created an initiative to give the refugees of Berlin a chance at citizenship, Yusuf, along with other refugees, agreed to make the most of their opportunity and create the best circus experience for the city that they could. Drawn together by the state of terror and homelessness, Yusuf's new circus family has spent the last two years working at being unnoticed while trying to learn as much about their new home as possible. Sadly, not all the citizens welcomed the refugees with understanding, compassion, and care. When the city's neo-Nazi members decide to take matters into their own hands, urged on by a crooked official, Yusuf and his new family must make the difficult decision to stop hiding in the shadows of the circus and take a stand for themselves and the unique community that adds beautiful colors to the new, entrancing Berlin. Only, after years of practicing invisibility and complacency, can the refugees break free from their past and embrace their future before their world comes tumbling down around them? Will Yusuf taking a stand make a big enough impact?

Hidden Colours by Nillu Nasser is the breathtaking, emotionally raw and politically stimulating novel about a young refugee fighting to build a home in a strange land. I was taken along on a provocative, heartfelt journey from the first page to the striking conclusion. I needed to know how it ended for Yusuf, Ellie, Isaiah, Emir, and the rest of the refugees. The end stunned me, leaving me reverberating with unchecked emotion. The author managed to create a breathtaking and colorful story world all her own, with characters with which one can easily sympathize. Her themes lent extra depth, drawing in the reader, compelling them to hear her daring, yet peaceful message of compassion and hope. I would recommend this stimulating and exciting book to those that enjoy deep, reflective yet vivid reads. I would highly suggest this novel for a book club.

Caitlin Lyle Farley

Hope lives in a circus in Berlin's Treptower Park, a midnight blue and bronze big top that's become home and livelihood to refugees from Syria and Yemen. Yusuf Alam stuns the audience every night with his daring acrobatics but he, like every other member of the circus, feels the pressure of xenophobia and racism as the recurring acts of vandalism at the circus escalate. The circus's patron, Interior Minister Rex Silberling, interprets the winds of change and decides that the so-called immigrant circus is no longer serving his political interests. Young newspaper reporter Ellie Richter knows that the members of the circus have a story to tell besides the slanted, scaremongering article her editor wants her to write, but with her job on the line, Ellie has no choice but to conform.

Nasser eloquently explores racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia through a narrative that's tender, haunting, and fearless. Yusuf is a particularly memorable character with a complex architecture of inner turmoil about his identity in this strange land and the traumatic losses that drove him from his homeland. The city of Berlin plays an intricate part of Hidden Colours as Nasser draws on its history to illuminate the irony and hypocrisy of political and cultural views threaded through this novel, while also painting a vivid portrait of the celebration of cultural diversity to offset the uglier side of the populace. The budding romance between Yusuf and Ellie felt a little contrived at times and didn’t quite work for me. However, Hidden Colours is an unforgettable tale of personal trauma and social justice.