Dear Haider

Published Date: June 1, 2024

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Liz, born in China and raised in Montreal, is about to land in Germany for a summer physics internship at the end of her freshman year. Eager for a new beginning, she hopes to break free of her unrealized childhood dream of becoming a pianist, a dead-end romantic relationship, and the tug of war between her Chinese and Canadian identities.

In Germany, she meets fellow intern Haider, an Indian Muslim from Toronto, and they fall in love against expectations. But summer doesn’t last forever. Once they return to Canada, culture clashes and family disapproval threaten to pull them apart. As her sense of self is pushed dangerously close to a tipping point, Liz must summon the courage to survive the chaos that her life has become.

 


Lili Zeng holds a PhD in biophysics from McGill University. She has several peer-reviewed papers under her name and has given a dozen scientific and public outreach talks. Also a classically trained pianist, she has won numerous music competitions and soloed with prestigious chamber and symphony orchestras. She was born in Guangzhou, China, and moved to Montreal, Canada, with her parents as a child. Dear Haider is Lili’s first novel.


Praise and reviews

 

“Lili Zeng’s slow-burn account of Liz’s summer student internship lays the foundation for a rollercoaster ride filled with often unexpected life adventures as Liz steps into a new chapter of her life.  Zeng’s awe-inspiring debut novel is a fearless and courageous narrative of first love, loss, despair, and ultimately of hope and healing. Truly, a testament to the resilience and enduring faith of the human spirit!”

— Mary  Anne Levasseur, caregiver and youth mental health advocate

“A very sincere and touching story about a young girl exploring herself and love. It candidly shows the protagonist Liz, a Montreal-based Chinese immigrant’s step-by-step adventures and inner doubts, conflicts and struggles in her love with a white youth and an Indian youth. Some of the real presentation and reflections on racial differences and chasm are a valuable and even most fascinating part of this story.”

— Xiaodan He, filmmaker, A Touch of Spring

“When Liz sets off to continue her studies in Europe, her path seems clear––until unexpected love is both a distraction and a portal. But to what? A coming of age story of the struggle with one’s own sense of self as it expands and contracts against the expectations of the larger world.”

— Leila Marshy, author of Philistine

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