Growing up in 1970s Zanzibar in a house full of secrets, Salim has always known that his father does not want him. When his father moves out, retreating into dishevelled introspection, Salim is confused and ashamed. His mother does not explain her absences with a strange man; silence is layered on silence. When his adored Uncle Amir, now a senior diplomat, offers Salim an escape, he travels to London for college. Struggling to find a foothold in this hostile city, and to understand the darkness at the heart of his family, Salim must face devastating truths about himself and those closest to him.