Mona Arshi

Somebody Loves You

Shortlisted for the 2022 Goldsmiths Prize

Shortlisted for the 2022 Jhalak Prize

Longlisted for the 2022 Republic of Consciousness Prize

Longlisted for the 2022 Desmond Elliott Prize

A teacher asked me a question, and I opened my mouth as a sort of formality but closed it softly, knowing with perfect certainty that nothing would ever come out again.

Ruby gives up talking at a young age. Her mother isn’t always there to notice; she comes and goes and goes and comes, until, one day, she doesn’t. Silence becomes Ruby’s refuge, sheltering her from the weather of her mother’s mental illness and a pressurized suburban atmosphere.

Plangent, deft, and sparkling with wry humour, Somebody Loves You is a moving exploration of how we choose or refuse to tell the stories that shape us.

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If you subscribed to And Other Stories by Sunday 6th June 2021, you will have received your limited edition copy of Somebody Loves You – in which all subscribers are thanked by name – in October 2021, before its official publication, as well as up to five other specially selected And Other Stories titles per year. Find out more about our subscriptions.

All subscribers receive their subscription copies before the books are available in bookshops, and we give them little extras to say thank you. Somebody Loves You  subscribers received a little fold-out leaflet of art & articles related to the book, a subscriber-exclusive edition and the first twenty-five new subscribers to sign up also won a beautiful, limited edition letterpress broadside New North Press. More on that here.

  • Read the poem that inspired the title of Mona Arshi’s Somebody Loves You
  • Whilst you’re here, why not delve into protagonist Ruby’s spotify playlist, available here
  • ‘I do think that poems are doing something important. They are a vehicle for the truth telling.’ Mona Arshi on transcribing bird calls, The Guardian.
  • The audiobook of Somebody Loves You is published by SAGA Egmont. You can read their interview with Mona Arshi on their website, and find the audiobook on your preferred audiobook platform.
Print status: Available
Author: Mona Arshi
Original language: English
Format: B-format paperback
Publication date: 16 November 2021
ISBN: 9781913505165
Ebook ISBN: 9781913505172
Availability: World English
Number of pages: 176


Stephanie Sy-Quia
The Guardian

‘Somebody Loves You is reminiscent at first of an old home movie shot on Super 8 film, the colours saturated but barely in focus . . . This is the camerawork of memory in action, what childhood recollection chooses to emphasise . . . For Ruby, speech is an inadequate mechanism for self-presentation . . . this is a book about silence as a subversive act of care.’

Sunday Telegraph
Cal Revely-Calder

‘Prismatically gorgeous: a fluent construction, and deconstruction, of words.’

Stephanie Cross
Daily Mail

‘Although this is a novel that is powerfully aware of the potency of words, it's executed with admirable delicacy.’

Alastair Mabbott
The Herald

Arshi’s poetic craft is conspicuous throughout all these vignettes, which are lyrical, beautifully honed facets of a larger whole.’

Rupa Huq MP
The House

‘Timeless . . . warmly written and warmly recommended.’

Publishers Weekly, starred review

‘The chapters, like Ruby, are concise, never rambling, but they contain startling depth . . . Each scene is packed with emotion and memory, and it’s all carried by the diction and imagery of a poem. It adds up to a beautiful whole.’

Jo Lateu
New Internationalist

Mona Arshi has crafted a delightful, gentle debut novel full of warmth and subtle humour. To quote one of Ruby’s father’s favourite aphorisms: a beautiful thing is never perfect. But I would counter that Somebody Loves You probably is.’

Lucy Popescu
The Tablet

‘An unforgettable portrait of a young girl struggling to connect.’

Heather McDaid
The Skinny

‘Amid anecdotes spanning years of life in a handful of pages lies a tale that will sit with readers long after its final page.’

Joshua Rees
Buzz Magazine

In the best writing, what goes unsaid is often as important as what gets said, and there’s a lot left unsaid in Mona Arshi’s debut novel Somebody Loves You . . . her prose is pared to the bone, and she has a keen eye for detail, as well as a knack for memorable imagery.’

Roger Robinson

‘A sharply drawn world of wonder in elegant and lean prose. A fresh, innovative novel that is an ode to families, coming of age and sisterhood.’

Jeet Thayil 

‘Mona Arshi uses the shape and heft of prose poetry to extend the novel into unexpected new terrain. Tender, funny, and exhilarating.’

Preti Taneja

‘Somebody Loves You is alive with rare subtlety and tensile strength, and infused with the kind of beauty that brings every quiet moment into sharp relief.’

Salena Godden

‘A truly enriching read, Somebody Loves You is a glorious debut novel. I took this book with me everywhere and kept returning to it. I loved every perfect choice of word and turn of phrase in this vivid and tender, poetic and beautiful book.’

Jessica J Lee

‘Mona Arshi writes with curiosity, gentleness, and a keen eye for how even the smallest details of daily life can carry meaning. In form and content, this is a gleaming, quiet novel cut through with remarkable confidence. Reading Somebody Loves You was like being rocked gently – and then shaken entirely awake.’

Bhanu Kapil

‘Something flows through this book at the deepest level: experiences of love, care, memory and intimacy. Written with the poetic capacity to articulate the unsaid and the unknown; an extraordinary novel of the day, the night, the garden and life.’

Andrew McMillan

‘Each sentence has the cadence of poetry, each phrase perfectly chosen, each word correctly weighed. This is a novel which reminds us memory and narrative are often not complete but rather are crystallised glimpses, which turn like a kaleidoscope through our mind.’

Booksellers love Somebody Loves You

  ‘A masterful, subtle and heartbreaking novel - I loved it.’ Jo Heygate, Pages of Hackney
‘A beautiful gem of a story, which explores the vicissitudes of youth with an understated elegance, wit and insight.’ Fiona Kennedy, The Pitshanger Bookshop
‘Mona Arshi's talent lies in the perfect balance between the harshness of the story and the bewitching atmosphere of her prose. Beautifully devastating.’ Giulia Lenti, Foyles Waterloo
‘An astutely observant portrait of the world from a girl who doesn't speak, Somebody Loves You is a novel built by the power of memories, nostalgia, and sisterhood. Arshi expresses the gravity of mental health in wonderfully written poetic prose which is absolutely captivating from start to finish. She transforms fleeting childhood moments into the unforgettable.’ Lauren Steele, Waterstones Crouch End
‘Like the proverbs Ruby carefully keeps in her notebook, Arshi’s chapters have a pearly, iridescent quality - tender, lyrical, with a quiet humour and a dark sting in the tail. You want to turn each sentence over in your hand in case it looks different from another angle. Properly sublime writing.’ Ben Pope, Review Bookshop
‘I jumped into Somebody Loves You with little to no idea of what to expect, and found myself unable to put it down. The voice of Ruby - sister, daughter of immigrants, brown, observant, mute - is powerfully crafted. A great read for lovers of poetry and prose alike.’ Mariana Calderon, Savoy Bookshop & Café
‘Somebody Loves You is elegant and elusive, and also completely brilliant. Each of its precise little vignettes holds an act of micro-resistance against the banality and violence of the world.’ Tom Robinson, Gloucester Road Books
‘An ambitious and richly imagined debut. Quite unlike anything I’ve ever read.’ Callum McAllister, Storysmith