As Swallows Fly

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When Malika, a young orphan in rural Pakistan, is savagely attacked, her face is left disfigured and her self-esteem destroyed. Haunted by the assault, she hides from the world, finding solace in her mathematical theories. A few years later, her intellectual brilliance is discovered and she leaves conflict-stricken Pakistan for a better education in Melbourne, where she finds herself placed with Kate—a successful plastic surgeon facing emotional insecurities of her own.

Malika and Kate's lives slowly intertwine as they find within each other what each has lacked alone. At first, Kate's skills appear to offer a simple solution to Malika's anguish, but when tragedy strikes, the price of beauty is found to be much higher than either of them could have known.

As Swallows Fly is a poignant portrayal of survival, identity and empowerment in a culture dominated by the pursuit of perfection. In a captivating and unforgettable debut, McMahon asks what might be possible if we have the courage to be flawed.

‘Intuitive and visceral and sharp as a scalpel. Malika will claim a chunk of your heart.' KRISTINA OLSSON

‘McMahon's rare insight and empathy make As Swallows Fly an unforgettable, compelling story of hope.' TONI JORDAN

‘A powerful, poignant and thought-provoking novel featuring an unforgettable main character in Kate. As Swallows Fly is a remarkable achievement by a debut author!' ANTONI JACH


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