Welcome to author Shireen Jilla’s website. Exiled is her debut novel.
I am told by a Polish friend that “Bez powrotu” means literally “no way back” as in someone was sent somewhere and the return route has been cut off.
The Polish edition of Exiled is out in July.
In love with her husband Jessie, an ambitious British diplomat, whose first posting brings them to New York, Anna begins the hectic, enjoyable life of a successful expat. But New York also brings her into contact with her husband’s manipulative and competitive stepmother Nancy, a powerful American socialite and philanthropist.
When a silly incident with her only son Josh involves the NY Police Department, Anna’s seemingly perfect world begins to shatter. As Jessie’s journey to rediscover his roots draws him closer to Nancy, terrible and strange things keep happening to Anna. And she begins to fear for her family’s survival.
- Feature on The Displaced Nation
Pushing the envelope: Jilla, a Third Culture Kid (she is half English, half Persian, and grew up in Germany, Holland and England) who has also been an expat — in Paris, Rome, and New York — hasn’t simply replicated her experience but has dug deeper to reveal psychological truths about the people she has observed. Anna’s step- mother-in-law is a powerful socialite and philanthropist of precisely the sort seen on The Real Housewives of New York City. In Jilla’s rendering, though, she is further revealed as calculating, manipulative — and evil.
- West End Lane Books event review
Last night when I met Shireen Jilla (dressed in smart New York style in a black sleeveless shirt-dress and high heeled nude shoes) at West End Lane Books she told me she had to fight hard to keep the understated design. Here’s a debut novelist who knows her market and has guts, I thought.
- David Hebblethwaite's Blog about Books
What Shireen Jilla does particularly well in Exiled is create the unsettling sense of life slipping out of one’s control, as Anna struggles to navigate the increasingly treacherous waters in which she finds herself without really understanding how she got there. The great contrast between the world of New York and Anna’s old life in rural Kent is vividly drawn (for example, when Josh takes head-lice into his private school, what would have been accepted as a routine occurrence back in England now requires a specialist company to come in and treat her entire apartment). One feels Anna’s disorientation as she tries to understand the social forces working against her…Exiled is well worth a read for the journey, and a fine debut for Shireen Jilla.
- Bookmunch review
‘The story itself moves at the frenetic pace of a New York cab ride’ – Exiled by Shireen Jilla.
If you’ve ever spent time in New York, then you will recognise that Shireen Jilla has done an excellent job of capturing the character of the place and the people. The story itself moves at the frenetic pace of a New York cab ride. Jilla throws you almost straight into the plot, and draws you into Anna’s crisis from an early stage. The cliched term ‘page-turner’ is very appropriate here, and the speed with which events spiral to their climax pulls you further into the book, adding to your sense of sympathy for Anna.
The final twist in the plot is totally unexpected and a very clever touch from Jilla. While you’ve watched the machinations of Anna’s manipulative step-mother in law, and seen the change in her husband Jessie from idealistic diplomat to controlled, money-obsessed corporate clone, you develop a sense that this is in some way a polemic from Shireen Jilla over the corrupting influence of the US obsession with money. I was starting to feel that Shireen Jilla was in some way bitter about her time in New York….
Approaching Exiled at the outset, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it – and I was suspicious of a glowing review from Boris Johnson given Shireen Jilla’s political connections to the Mayor of London. However, it turned out to be one of the best and most enthralling psychological thrillers I’ve read for some time…Any Cop?: Exiled is an excellent, highly-polished novel from start to finish, debut or otherwise. It’s an excellent, roller-coaster read and I highly recommend it.
- For Books Sake review
Exiled is a gloriously dark psychodrama, and a sure-footed début novel from Shireen Jilla, a journalist who’s lived in Paris, Rome, London (now) and, of course, New York.
Ever dreamed of living in Manhattan? This is the complete opposite of the glitz and glamour Carrie and co and Alicia Keys sold us – this New York is a teeming pit of hissing vipers, only just covered with a finely-buffed veneer of sophistication.
- The Times book review
Exiled by Shireen Jilla “I couldn’t imagine that my romantic dream would turn into a dark battle for everything I loved.” Anna is thrilled when her diplomat husband, Jessie, is offered a job in New York. But the dream turns sour. New Yorkers mistake Anna’s British sense of humour for a lack of commitment, and a team of armed cops descends on her when her four-year-old son is accidentally locked out on the terrace. Worse, Jessie’s stepmom, Nancy, is your typical Manhattan superbitch: evil, rich, immaculately groomed and with designs on her handsome stepson. Bristling with tension and studded with designer names, this fast-moving debut is extremely entertaining. Kate Saunders The Times saturday review, 23 April 2011
- Reviews - The Lady Magazine
Reviews – Books – The Expat Files Shireen Jilla takes Jessica Jonzen over to the dark side while discussing her new novel, Exiled, set in New York
by Jessica Jonzen 5th April 2011
- Mandrake Column - The Telegraph
Arnold Schwarzenegger determined to make a political comeback Arnold Schwarzenegger, asked by Boris Johnson if he wants to return to politics, says: ‘I will be be back’ Johnson was, by the way, on mischievous form at the launch of Shireen Jilla’s book Exiled at the Halcyon Gallery in Mayfair. “It has obviously required great courage for Shireen to expose her husband’s S and M routines – and she deserves to be congratulated on her unflinching candour,” he said of the novel’s racy theme.
by Tim Walker
4th Apr 2011
- Style Magazine - Sunday Times
What It Feels Like to be a Control Freak
Shireen Jilla thought she was a perfectionist – until she moved to New York and discovered she was merely a beginner.
by Shireen Jilla
3 Apr 2011
- Londoner's Diary - Evening Standard
Welcoming Boris Johnson to the launch of Exiled at the Halcyon Gallery in Mayfair, Shireen Jilla thanked the Mayor for employing her husband Guto Harri as his spin doctor, giving her time to write her first novel. “He has done a spectacular job keeping him horribly busy,” she said.Boris accused the Londoner of “appalling revelations of S&M” before adding: “Have you read the bits about bleeding nipples?”Publisher Naim Attallah said that of the 600 women he had interviewed Shireen was “the most vibrant of them all”. “No one could forget anything about her,” said Attallah. “She left me reeling with admiration.”Harri said that, contrary to Boris’s teasing, he was not the main character in the book. “There he is, Nick Williams,” he said. “He really was a British diplomat in New York.”Guests included Rageh Omaar, Caroline Michel, Sophie Raworth and former Labour MP Bob Marshall-Andrews. “Boris and I think Libya is the first war we’ve agreed about,” said the ex-MP. “We couldn’t leave the people of Benghazi to be slaughtered by Gaddafi.”
31 March 2011
S&M novel credit for Mayor’s spin doctor
- Londoner's Diary - Evening Standard
What laughs they have in City Hall. The Mayor has been teasing his chief spin doctor Guto Harri by claiming he is a character in Exiled, a new novel by his wife Shireen Jilla.Harri was once the BBC’s New York correspondent and it just so happens that Jessie, Jilla’s hero, is a British expatriate in the Big Apple with a predilection for S&M: “Jessie was also naked, half-kneeling on either side of her ankles. He was holding a black whip, which he was lashing against her breasts … Do you know what it felt like to be allowed to whip Jessie’s balls with a leather belt?” No wonder Boris enjoyed the book, which Harri admits makes him nervous. “Boris keeps teasing me mercilessly that I am Jessie — and reads out passages from the book substituting Guto for Jessie and laughing to himself!” he says, while insisting that he is not Jessie. “I do not own a Gieves & Hawkes suit,” he says defensively. “I tend to wear Boss. And I was a foreign correspondent in New York, not a diplomat. And I have never worked for a sausage magnate or … Sorry I can’t give away the punchline of the story — but it’s not based on me.” Doth he protest too much ?
30 March 2011
I didn’t work for a sausage magnate and I don’t do S&M
- Daily Mail
Boris Johnson calls this book ‘a 21st-century version of Rosemary’s Baby’. Consider yourself warned…
Daily Mail Books – First Novels – published 25 March 2011.
- Evening Standard
“Not many debut novels can boast encomiums from the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.” To read the full article: http://londonersdiary.standard.co.uk/ 2011/03/boris-is-not-a-bad-spinner-himself.html
- Sophie Raworth
‘Compelling. I couldn’t put it down.’
- Boris Johnson
‘Pacy, punchy, with a climax that slaps you in the face. A twenty-first-century version of Rosemary’s Baby.’
- Rosamund Lupton
‘A smart, savvy, contemporary story . . . reveals rich New Yorkers as I’ve never seen them. Terrifying.’
To read the first few pages of Exiled please click on the book title here –