Guns and Almond Milk

A Novel

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Pub Date 2 Apr 2024 | Archive Date 10 Jul 2024
BooksGoSocial | Interlink Books

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An adrenaline-fueled journey into war-torn Yemen, this novel is the perfect read for fans of fast-paced fiction.

Luke Archer, a British Egyptian doctor, runs from his problematic past in the UK and becomes a war surgeon. When he is taken hostage by Western security contractors in a besieged hospital in Yemen, he realizes that after spending years saving the lives of others, he needs to face the demons of his past in order to save his own.

Guns and Almond Milk is a study of identity, war and redemption. It is The Sympathizer mixed with M.A.S.H by the way of Ramy.

Born to Egyptian parents and raised as a first-generation British Muslim, Luke Archer struggles to be from two worlds at the same time. He is working in a humanitarian mission in Aden, at the height of the Yemeni conflict. Max Gorsky, Luke's new patient, is a security contractor working for the government forces. Rebel forces have taken over the city, and Max's team is now taking refuge in the city's hospital, in preparation for their final stand. Luke and his team find themselves caught in a deadly clash between the ruthless rebel group and the desperate security contractors. At the same time, Max and Luke need to settle debts from their shared past in the UK where they joined forces in fencing a multi-million-dollar stolen artifact operation that went wrong.

Guns and Almond Milk is a fast-paced story of love, murder, and thrill that provides readers with a fresh perspective on humanitarian work, religion, assimilation, and Middle Eastern politics.
An adrenaline-fueled journey into war-torn Yemen, this novel is the perfect read for fans of fast-paced fiction.

Luke Archer, a British Egyptian doctor, runs from his problematic past in the UK and...

Advance Praise

1) ""This book takes the vibe and emotion of Jesus' Son and The Things They Carried, and shakes it up, telling a unique war-torn, medical thriller story infused with drugs, capers, and layers of trauma. It's Hunter S. Thompson via Usman T. Malik with a dash of Irvine Welsh.""—Richard Thomas, Thriller Award finalist

2)""Mustafa Marwan is coming out of the gate strong—GUNS AND ALMOND milk is an incredible debut, with a gripping voice, enthralling action, and a unique take on geopolitics that introduces you to an often-forgotten part of the world while never forgetting to uncover the depths of humanity to be found there."" —Rob Hart, author of The Paradox Hotel

3) ""Tense, fast-paced and propulsive, this novel takes you on an adrenaline-fuelled journey into war-torn Yemen where all bets are off. Packed with action and suspense, this book will have you at the edge of your seat as you race through it, devouring every last page. Marwan has truly arrived.""—Awais Khan, award-winning author of No Honour and In the Company of Strangers

4) ""This un-put-downable thriller weaves together two stories: one among high-end thieves in London and another among mercenaries and aid workers in Yemen. The two stories come together through the narration of a sarcastic, sharp-eyed doctor who can see the world clearly -- except when it comes to his own emotions."" Marcia Lynx Qualey, editor-in-chief of ArabLit

5) ""Absolutely amazing. I picked it up and literally couldn't put it down. Darkly comic and beautifully written with many plot twists. Guns and Almond Milk has all the elements of a fantastic story of love, grit, thrill, murder, everything. A winner!""—Pamela Paterson, Amazon Best Selling Author.

6) ""If you can imagine being unconscious in an operating theater somewhere in Yemen while a hideous war without rules is raging around the bedraggled hospital and then suddenly coming awake on the metal table just long enough to glimpse two bloodstained surgeons working away furiously over you who greatly resemble Raymond Chandler and Thom Jones, then you will start to grasp the beautiful monstrosity that is Guns and Almond Milk, the brilliant noir debut of Mustafa Marwan both traditional and unheard of, and one worth celebrating darkly. Trust me when I say this book goes places you've never been.""—Lee Durkee, author of The Last Taxi Driver

7) ""Guns and Almond Milk is a thrilling odyssey that explores themes of identity, redemption, and the price of one's choices. Marwan's masterful storytelling, rich with cultural and psychological insights, is set against the vibrant backdrops of London and the tumultuous regions of the Middle East, where we follow Luke, a man caught in the crosshairs of his own conflicted existence.""—Ahmed Naji, author of Rotten Evidence"

1) ""This book takes the vibe and emotion of Jesus' Son and The Things They Carried, and shakes it up, telling a unique war-torn, medical thriller story infused with drugs, capers, and layers of...

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ISBN 9781623711054
PRICE CA$24.95 (CAD)

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Featured Reviews

One of my favourite books in the past year (I read about 30). I'd say 5 out of 5 for theme, 5 out of 5 for plot. Really liked learning about the war in Yemen and humanitarian work, which I did not previously know much about.
A fast paced easy read, yet raising important issues that I found super interesting.

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Right off the bat, the title should clue you in to the tongue-in-cheek, satirical content that this book possesses. Yes, you can expect to burst out laughing in public when delving into Mustafa Marwan's debut work. It was quite a challenge to read when the brutal realities are streamed daily: the actual horrors far surpassing anything fiction could devise. It is even more imperative for those of us who retain a flicker of humanity and haven't succumbed to indifference to be slapped in the face with different perspectives to proactively propel ourselves forward and fall into awareness. Guns and Almond Milk provides precisely that fresh outlook into the psyche and culture between the Middle East and West (with gut punching one liners). It truly makes me ponder how many close calls or wild negotiations have Marwan experienced in his own life as a humanitarian aid.

Guns and Almond Milk is an intriguing and satirical exploration of the realities of proxy wars and the absurdities of modern society. Through clever juxtaposition of serious issues and ironic humor, Marwan challenges readers to reflect on the state of our world between the Middle East and that of the West. This political/medical thriller is perfect for fans of S.A. Cosby (the only action thriller author I've read and enjoyed).
Marwan is a talent worth keeping an eye out for.

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In the thought-provoking novel "Guns and Almond Milk," Luke Archer, a British Egyptian doctor, embarks on a perilous journey that delves into the complexities of identity, loyalty, and redemption. As Luke flees his troubled past in the UK, he finds himself in the midst of a war-torn Yemen, serving as a surgeon in a besieged hospital. However, his life takes an unexpected turn when he and his team are taken hostage by Western security contractors. Caught in the crossfire between rebel forces and ruthless security contractors, Luke realizes that the only way to survive is to confront the demons of his past. This realization leads him on a quest for answers and reconciliation, uncovering a multi-million dollar stolen artifact operation gone awry. The narrative deftly interweaves Luke's experiences in Yemen with flashbacks to his life in the UK, shedding light on his struggles with identity and his involvement in the artifact heist. As Luke navigates the treacherous landscapes of war and his own troubled history, he finds unexpected companionship in Max Gorsky, a security contractor who shares a complicated past with him. Together, they must navigate the complexities of their shared history and find a way to survive the escalating conflict. Along the way, Luke discovers that true redemption lies in facing the consequences of one's actions and finding the strength to make amends. With its gripping plot, vivid characters, and exploration of profound themes, "Guns and Almond Milk" is a compelling and thought-provoking read. Luke Archer's journey is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of redemption. This novel will appeal to readers who enjoy stories of intrigue, self-discovery, and the complexities of human relationships set against the backdrop of international conflict.

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Having worked in the international humanitarian space, I was fascinated to see how this book would straddle two worlds. The author manages to bring credibility and realism to both Yemen and London, the former with often heartbreaking detail. Touches of humour remind us that humanity is what it is and that can sometimes mean the ludicrous is reality. I really enjoyed the writing style and felt that the author brought respect and perspective to a troubling context. Again, I loved the humour and the way the author wrote - just so fresh and new.

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📱E-Book Review📱

Guns & Almond Milk
Mustafa Marwan


I wasn't quite prepared for this book at all.
I knew from the title that it was going to be pretty full on, but really wanted to stretch my reading with something a little different to my usual genre.

What I got was a brilliant, fast-paced thriller, packed with adventure, humour and a thought-provoking look at identity and predjudice.

There were some heavy themes within this storyline and I loved the way the author managed to diffuse some of the more difficult sections with humour - albeit dark humour, this really worked to make this read not as heavy as it could have been.

There was so much going on in the plot here but I particularly liked seeing the other side of war. So often, we see reports in the media about war zones and the humanitarian aid offered, but to live this through Luke here, really gave a much greater sense of the pressures and commitment these workers deal with.

This was a really engaging and enjoyable read which has stayed with me.

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Guns and Almond Milk by Mustafa Marwan is set in Yemen during the recent conflict. When I started this book, I really didn’t know what to expect but, from the beginning, it proved to be one explosive no-holds-barred thriller about war, its horrors, and what motivates people to volunteer, whether medical teams, mercenaries, or rebels. But there is also a more introspective side here about guilt and redemption and even a touch of humour. I would have liked a little more about the background of the War in Yemen but it does give a fascinating portrayal of what it’s like to be caught in the middle of a conflict but without the romanticism or heroics of too much war fiction. I can’t say this is an enjoyable read but a very interesting and compelling one, one that made me think and will stay with me for a very long time. That this is Marwan’s debut makes it even more impressive.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and BooksGoSocial in exchange for an honest review

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Mustafa Marwan's Guns and Almond Milk is a novel based in war-torn Yemen. The plot follows Luke Archer, a British-Egyptian doctor. Circumstances push him to take up a job as a war surgeon in conflict-ridden Aden, a port city in Yemen.
I found the book to be slow in the beginning but the plot picked up pace a couple of chapters in. Mustafa Marwan's writing style was very engaging and sharp. To me, the main protagonist was quite Dickensian, like David Copperfield. Despite his innumerable flaws, I was rooting for Luke to rise out of his hard situations and find redemption. Such is the power of Marwan's writing that I finished reading the book in just a couple of days, absorbing each meticulously written scene.
The language is taut and often laced with dark war humans, reminiscent of classics like Joseph Heller's Catch-22. Moreover, with the novel set in Yemen, I found it highly useful for a nuanced understanding of the present geopolitics of the region.
I would recommend this book to those who enjoy reading a fast-paced thriller that keeps them on the edge. Also, those interested in learning about the political and social conflicts in the Middle East can find this book useful.
Thank you, Interlink Books, for sending this book for review consideration through NetGalley.
All views here are my own.

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Luke Archer is of Egyptian descent, but was raised by English adoptive parents. He is Muslim, but apart from respect for certain precepts, not particularly religious. He is a surgeon, but uses drugs to treat a possibly psychosomatic headache, and therefore can no longer practise in England. He is also someone who is used to losing everything, living between worlds and trying to disappear into the group. You would say he is the perfect candidate to become a war doctor, in places where the situation is so compromised that the rules somehow look more like a torn fabric. And indeed he ends up in Yemen, in the midst of a bloody revolution and with fellow adventurers whose motivations are as fragile as his own. It is in Yemen that the knots in Luke's life will come to a head, finally forcing him to give himself a true identity.
Written with skill and black humour, the novel does justice (however inappropriate this term may seem) to the reality of the many revolutions that are shaking the world's poorest countries, where the only widely available commodity is weapons, whose use and trade certainly does not benefit those for whose freedom and democracy they are said to be made available.

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Marwan's storytelling is so visually vivid and skillful, surprising in this debut novel. I read this in one sitting. It's a gripping story told in interwoven timelines - present-day war-torn Yemen and London in the past. I didn't know what to expect but was compelled by a story filled with the horrors of war and those who provide humanitarian aid. It is also a story about guilt and redemption, physical and psychological scars, religion and politics, and the complexities of the human condition.

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Not exactly what I expected in a good way. I can't say if it is best read all at once of taken in bites so you can digest it. War is hell and when those who are fighting it care nothing for themselves or others, it is a hell of an entirely different level. Not a feel good book, prepare to be taken to a plane of existence I, personally, hope to never see. Eye opening and gruesome.

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I think this was set during the Iran war but it could quite easily have been set during the Gaza war that’s been going on. It tells the story of a medic and his need to urgently finish his stint. I enjoyed the read and I still enjoyed the read after I had finished, it’s a very well written book and I thoroughly enjoyed it

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I liked this novel, even if it didn't end up being what I thought it would.

There's some great writing and some caustic zingers. "If languages were diseases, French would be diarrhea" was my personal favourite.

The narrative is kinda disjointed at first. We jump between present day Yemen and the past back in London - and strangely I found those sections the most compelling part of the book.

It's more of a character study than a novel about war, though we do get plenty of blood and guts.

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There is chaos in the content and the format of the plot, but there is a sense in the chaos. We have a troubled protagonist with a chequered past, who is now working in a war torn location in Yemen.

Luke is part of a team of expat doctors who find themselves in a hostage situation of sorts. We encounter several types of people and conversations that border on the existential as everyone tries to navigate their mortality.

There’s more swearing and sorrow than I’m used to, but there was something about the story that has me hooked. We have a flashback in a dual timeline narrative that gives us the background we need to understand any undercurrents that may be obvious on the page. The situation is unique in its premise and the different purposes that brought everyone to the country so not necessarily help them when things seem dire.

The conversations seem very realistic, bringing very different voices into the discussion. I wouldn’t call this a thriller, even with all the killing and violence, I think it veers into a slightly different territory because of all the things I previously mentioned. It’s almost set up well to seem like a play being enacted on a stage. There are a few surprises hidden away until the end, something that caught me unawares.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes high stakes situations.

I received an ARC thanks to Netgalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my reading experience.

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Thank you so much NetGalley, the publisher and the writer (esp. The writer because he sent me the ARC when I couldn’t finish my NetGalley ARC on time and it expired) for sending an eARC of Guns and Almond Milk by Mustafa Marwan

In short, it was a rollercoaster ride, honestly! And one that keeps you hooked till the end.

On a serious note, it is quite an eye-opening book about the conflicts that keep happening in the middle east region. First, they are ravaged by foreign wars, then there are all sorts of humanitarian conferences and aids and welfare programs, doctors and other humanitarians going to these war-torn countries, the many rebellions that arise among various sects within these countries, the foreign involvement that adds fuel to the fire. This has been happening since ages and it keeps happening because those in power never really want peace to prevail.

Apart from that, this is narrated by Luke Archer (he has quite a few names), who is a British Egyptian Surgeon and has an immensely complicated past. The narrative shifts between the present in war-torn Yemen with rebels creating havoc and foreign mercenaries fighting them and Luke’s past.

What I loved about this book is how real it all was. The prejudices of white people against the people of color, their constant disregard of their culture and also the entitlement they feel along with the saviour complex. It was also funny to see how they want their own safety first when the going gets tough.

On the other hand, it is about those who will do anything for their doctor’s oath and even put their lives to save their patients or locals. The prejudices run on both sides.

Another thing to note is how little do these people know who kill in the name of God. They will use the religion card to kill and spread chaos while knowing nothing about the true beliefs of the religion.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The accidental meetup with someone from Luke’s past and how it went and ended was truly a rollercoaster ride. So much happens in such a short time period.
Definitely a recommended read.

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