Natasha Burge was born and grew up in Saudi Arabia, where her family lived for more than half a century. Through various departures and returns – a year at boarding school in New England, university in London, a small town in Texas where there are more cows than people, back to work in Bahrain – the years of difficulty, isolation and severe anxiety take their toll. Finally, at 37 years old she received the life-changing news that she is autistic.
In this striking exploration of identity and place, Burge probes these intertwined strands of her being: what it means to grow up at the interstices of different cultures, and what it is to experience unrecognised neurodivergence and a late diagnosis of autism.
From the cosmopolitan heritage of Muharraq’s Pearling Path to the jebels of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, Burge charts a new course through the stories of the Arabian Gulf and the myths surrounding autism. The result is a work of dazzling insight, sensitivity and awareness.
‘Surreal, vivid, haunting, mischievous, visionary’ Lauren Elkin
‘Drifts is a stunning achievement. It invites us to see the world differently, as if through a kaleidoscope for the first time’ Hassan Melehy
‘This is wonderful – we encounter not only the Gulf War and the falling Twin Towers of Manhattan but also London, Bahrain, Texas, Dhahran, souqs, sandstorms, slantways Arabic, and cats with weeping eyes. Read on. Drift on’ John Schad