When Malika, a young orphan in rural Pakistan, is savagely attacked, her face is left disfigured and her self-esteem destroyed. Haunted by the assault, she hides from the world, finding solace in her mathematical theories. A few years later, her intellectual brilliance is discovered and she leaves conflict-stricken Pakistan for a better education in Melbourne, where she finds herself placed with Kate—a successful plastic surgeon facing emotional insecurities of her own.
Malika and Kate’s lives slowly intertwine as they find within each other what each has lacked alone. At first, Kate’s skills appear to offer a simple solution to Malika’s anguish, but when tragedy strikes, the price of beauty is found to be much higher than either of them could have known.
As Swallows Fly is a poignant portrayal of survival, identity and empowerment in a culture dominated by the pursuit of perfection. In a captivating and unforgettable debut, McMahon asks what might be possible if we have the courage to be flawed.
L.P. McMahon was born in Melbourne. His writing career began as a medical student, and he has since won or been shortlisted for multiple national and regional short story competitions. He has travelled, lectured and published widely in his medical career, living and working in Oxford, Berlin, Pakistan, Newfoundland and New Zealand. He currently directs a busy medical department as Professor of Nephrology at Monash University. As Swallows Fly is his debut novel.