Introducing: As Swallow’s Fly- L P McMahon

As Swallows Fly

L P McMahon

Ventura Press

ISBN: 9781920727574



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.


My View:

This is an amazing 5 star read! This character driven narrative will win your heart and have you staying up way too late to discover how the protagonists, Kate and Malika, resolve their dilemmas and continue their respective lives.

This is a spellbinding read.  Captivating and compelling; the story arcs deftly woven together taking the reader to unfamiliar places and at times harrowing events.  I found it unusual and refreshing that a work of contemporary fiction could be so compelling.

I highly recommend this read.


Let me introduce you to Lawrie McMahon as he discusses A Doctor and writer, a disfigured girl from Pakistan. What’s the story?

My work in Pakistan was in a voluntary capacity, helping out in a small mission hospital in a small town north of Lahore (Gujrat). People of all faiths were always welcome and it was chastening to see the way the villagers lived, what mattered to them, how they dealt with loss (often of their children), and the strictness of the culture. I saw their lives devastated by loss but, in a way beyond my capacity, they were able to continue and even rebuild.  These experiences were all key aspects influencing Malika’s character development. I realise now how the experience and memories have influenced my life too. The memories of that time remain crystal clear. I still find myself wondering what happened to the people I met there – young and old – and how life has changed for them. It remains an ambition to return.”


The progression from short stories to this debut….

The difference between short story writing and writing the novel could not have been more different.  I expect it to be the same for most writers. Complexity in both characters and plot were the main practical differences. My short stories focus on defined situations and experiences—the character is etched clearly and quickly, and the narrative progresses in its limited arc to the finish. It must be contained. The novel depends on the characters changing as the novel progresses. We see a much richer version of the humanity and flaws within the person. As a writer, I hope the difference is clear. In addition, the novel raised a whole series of challenges: subplots, subtleties of character and motive as they developed and were given their due. It remains a continued learning experience. A journey, as they say.


Thanks so much to Dr Lawrie McMahon and Ventura Press for these insights.


Post Script: I,Migrant – Sami Shah

“You can tell everything about a person by the books they read.”(p. 94)

Book cover I Imigrant Sami Shah

I, Migrant

Sami Shah

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781743319345


Despite nearly being killed by a kangaroo and almost lynched and run out of town after his comedy was taken far too seriously, Sami Shah is very happy to be living in Australia. He has fronted his own satirical show on TV in Karachi, worked as a journalist and been a highly regarded newspaper columnist – all dangerous occupations to be involved in – when the combination of seeing the aftermaths of a devastating bomb attack and being the target of death threats convinced him to leave Pakistan. Under the terms of their Australian migration visa, Sami and his wife and young daughter were obliged to settle in a rural area, and so they moved to Northam in WA.

Now Sami is battling a crippling addiction to meat pies, but at least is no longer constantly mistaken for an escaped asylum seeker from the nearby detention centre. He has also been the star of Australian Story, the subject of an article in The New York Times, and has performed countless comedy shows to ever-growing and appreciative audiences.

I, Migrant tells the hilarious and moving story of what it’s like to leave the home you love to start a new life in another country so your child can be safe and grow up with a limitless future. Australia is lucky to have Sami Shah. Read I, Migrant, and laugh till you cry.

My View:

Sami Shah writes with an evocative truth that will take you through a range of emotions. Living in Pakistan and experiencing such turmoil, violence, fear and discrimination is one that most Westerners will never understand or appreciate. I (and my family) spent eighteen months living in Sri Lanka in 1993/1994 and though I did not experience terrorism first hand, I did experience its effect on the people around me and the community I was living in. It became the norm to expect to be searched when entering buildings, shopping centres, parking lots etc. Sensible behaviour was to avoid crowds, pageants, processions and anything to do with elections. The president was assassinated the day I arrived in the country; curfews and tear gas were new experiences I would rather not have had. The TV and local papers filled with images of severed heads and gore, images that were to become “everyday”, commonplace, as the toll of terrorism and suicide bombers grew. I understand a little of what you have seen Sami but not what you experienced. But life went on, in Sri Lanka, in Pakistan. This violence or threat of violence became normalised – and that is indeed a tragedy. Sami shares his experiences – and I think we are all better off for reading them and considering how we might have coped or not in his situation. It does us good to walk a while in some one else’s shoes if only through the power of his words.

Despite the violence that surrounded Sami, this is not a depressing book, and in fact it is the opposite. It is full of hope and full of dark humour and personal reflections – some I found a little too personal, but that’s just me. J

Sami Shah is an astute observer of human behaviour perhaps that is the key to being a successful Stand-up Comedian (and a successful writer). I will share some of his wisdom and humour with you, observations that struck a chord with me:

On writing/finding material for his TV shows in Pakistan: “There were some phenomena I discovered that could be guaranteed to write their own punch lines. The most reliable was that, no matter who the politician was and where in the world they were speaking, if they espoused an opinion on something, you could find – with enough research – earlier footage of them saying the exact opposite with just as much conviction. I also realised, more than ever before, that every news story is merely a repeat of events that had occurred previously, with minor changes in the cast of characters at best.” (pp.132-133)


“Death, no matter who brings it, will come unannounced and so there is no point in waiting around for it.” (p.39)


“Journalists fancy themselves as being at the frontline of human experience –divers into the deepest seas of reality, plunging to extreme pressures that would crush a submarine and turn a chartered accountant or marketer into jelly. The only other life forms capable of surviving to those depths are doctors and soldiers. “(p.50)

“You can tell everything about a person by the books they read.”(p. 94)


Sami comments about learning the skills of comedy, “… I studied the power of a simple observation and how the more specific to your own life you get, the more likely you are to speak to a larger shared experience. The great wisdom of stand-up comedy is that if it happened to you, no matter what it is, then it probably happened to other people too.” (pp.109-110)