writer & editor

Review of Warm Beers and Soggy Burgers

I first began to follow the work of Farah Ahamed on April 3, 2015. Warm Beers and Soggy Burgers is the ninth of her short stories upon which I have posted. I reserve such coverage for writers whose talent and insight I greatly value.

Several of her stories are set in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital and deal with a wonderful character, Dr. Patel, of whom I have become very fond.

My main purpose here is to continue my records of reading the work of Farah Ahamed and to let interested readers know of the availability of this marvellous short story online. (There links to several of her other stories on The Reading Life.)

The story is narrated by an affluent married woman living in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Her husband, Inayat, has booked a family trip to Thailand for next week but neglected to tell her. She is upset as she has a radio job interview set up for next week. She is looking for work as a script editor.

As their relationship begins to decline, the husband is clueless as to what might be the issue we see her growing frustration:

“About time,’ he said, and turned his attention back to the television. I lifted my arm and aimed the plant at him, hoping its thin, straggly roots would land in the middle of his face. But he ducked and it landed on the rug.

‘What the hell’s wrong with you?’ he said.


The next morning at breakfast I said to Inayat, ‘Could you pass me the sugar, please?’ From behind his newspaper, he handed me the butter dish. As usual, he hadn’t been listening. I took a teaspoonful of butter and stirred it in my tea. Oil globules floated to the surface.”

From here it get worse.

The depiction of the marriage is really brilliant. At my worst I could see a bit of the husband’s failure to understand the feelings of his wife. He means well but…

Farah Ahamed’s short stories and essays have been published in Ploughshares, The Mechanics’ Institute Review, The Massachusetts’ Review amongst others. In 2021, Pan Macmillan will publish her non-fiction anthology on menstruation experiences in South Asia. A human rights lawyer with a Diploma in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, Farah is currently working on a short story collection and a novel set in Lahore. She also has a complete book of Dr Patel stories. You can read more of her work here: farahahamed.com.

I hope to follow her literary work for years to come and salute her human rights work.

Mel Ulm