By (author): Denise Roig

Brilliant is a collection of short stories set in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, a polyglot city where cultures collide and converge, where money — and sometimes justice — is no object, where in less than two generations towers have replaced tents. In these stories, a cast of characters — an Egyptian pastry chef, a Filipina nanny, a Canadian nurse, a lusty French urban planner, a newly destitute British couple, and a cross-dressing Emirati — navigate this land of sudden plenty, discovering the limits of freedom, money, tolerance and their own good sense.


Denise Roig

Denise Roig has previously published two collections of short stories – A Quiet Night and a Perfect End, and Any Day Now. The first was translated into French as Le Vrai Secret du bonheur, with five stories produced on CBC Radio One’s “Between the Covers” in 2003, and rebroadcast in 2006. Any Day Now was shortlisted for the Quebec Writers’ Federation fiction prize in 2005. Denise has made a living for the past thirty years from corporate writing, freelance magazine and newspaper journalism and has taught both creative writing and journalism at Concordia University. Originally from Los Angeles, she has lived in Montreal for many years.


An Egyptian pastry chef. A Canadian nanny. A philandering Frenchman. A Filipina maid. This multifarious cast of characters nearly climbs off the page in Denise Roig’s new volume of short stories, Brilliant. Set entirely in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, Brilliant paints a rich and at times unsettling portrait of a city that has suddenly found itself a fountain of excessive wealth, with all its attendant pleasures and pitfalls.


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from Rice Dreams That first day – no pay – Bashir had paired him up with Little Ali, Big Ali’s nephew from Aleppo. At the end of an hour Bashir could see that Karim was faster and smarter than Little Ali, who ducked out every half hour for a smoke and to text his “cousin” back home. (Bashir suspected it was really a girlfriend.) There was no getting rid of him because of Big Ali, but Bashir had pushed to take on Karim. They needed another body in the kitchen, what with Sheikh Mohammed and his mahmouland National Day coming and Little Ali doing less and less. No pay for the first two weeks, but room – even if this was sometimes a bag of flour – and board: a share of the food Annabelle cooked for them every noon. The bosses still sometimes questioned the rightness of a woman in the kitchen. But then Big Ali would invite them down from the offices upstairs for a plate or send lunch up in a nice takeaway container. And that would be it for complaints until the next time someone would get a bee in his ghutra about “a girl down there” and remind them they were getting away with something not quite halal. Annabelle’s lunch specials silenced them. “Annabelle? She come in today?” From his second day, Karim had asked this every morning. “Of course, she comes in. How many times do I have to tell you?” Bashir said. He was too tired for stupid questions. God love Sheikh Mohammed, masha’allah, but it was late and he’d been standing all day, all night, with only an hour on the flour bag. “Get me the scale. Go!” Even after three years, Bashir knew only a little about Annabelle, and nothing about how she’d landed the unlikely job of cooking Filipino food every day for a bunch of Arab pastry guys. Annabelle was tiny with a long braid and a smile even Big Ali couldn’t fight. She wore one outfit at all times: a pink T-shirt with rhinestones spelling “Crown Jewels” and tight jeans. It took a year for Big Ali to convince her she had to wear a chef’s jacket and one of the white, elasticized caps if she wanted to work in the kitchen. “You want me to look like a dork, Big Al?” Annabelle talked like an American teenager who spent her days reading fan magazines. How old she was, no one knew or dared ask, though it was discussed endlessly among the guys. Big Ali thought she must be around 30; Bashir put her closer to 40. Karim, when they asked him – a rite of initiation on his first day – said, “Oh, no, Miss Annabelle is young! She is … 22!”

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247 Pages
8in * 5.25in * .75in


October 01, 2014


Signature Editions



9781927426449 – MobiPocket

9781927426432 – EPUB

Book Subjects:

FICTION / Short Stories

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