Summary: Chapter 8

Although the electricity remains on in a few scattered places around the edges of Saeed and Nadia’s neighborhood, most places have gone dark. This makes the neighborhoods with electricity look even brighter. At night in Dark London, surveillance drones fly overhead. Violence and crime increases, which some people blame on nativist mobs and others on other migrants. Amongst the migrants, people begin to cluster by country of origin. The people in Saeed and Nadia’s house are primarily Nigerian. 

Nadia starts attending the council meetings held by the elders of the house. At first, the others seem surprised because of her youth and nationality, but one of Nadia’s neighbors, an old woman, motions for Nadia to stand by her. Nadia enjoys the council meetings and connecting with others. The other residents respect her except for a young woman her age who wears a leather jacket.

Saeed feels outnumbered and alone. One day, the woman in the leather jacket blocks Saeed from walking through the hallway. The woman refuses to move, and Saeed turns to walk away but finds himself face to face with a tough-seeming man. The woman makes a little space for Saeed to get through, and he rushes back to his room, frightened and embarrassed.

Saeed finds a house with people from their country and begins to spend time there. Praying with them makes him feel like part of something large and human. An older man with a graying beard offers him tea. The man says Saeed and Nadia can move into the house, but they can’t share a room. All men sleep on one floor and women on another because they believe it’s the most decent way to fit so many people into one house. Saeed suggests they move, but Nadia doesn’t want to sacrifice their private room. She doesn’t consider the residents of the other house, despite being her countrymen, to truly be her people. Saeed wonders why he’s so willing to give up the private room. He thinks back fondly on their old country because he misses how he once felt about Nadia. 

The elders’ council agrees that they have to keep the youth from forming an armed resistance lest they bring violence down on everyone. Nadia isn’t sure she agrees because she’s seen what happens when a city surrenders. 

At the house with the citizens of Saeed and Nadia’s country, the man with the graying beard speaks of martyrdom as a righteous outcome. Although Saeed finds his speech moving, the words remind him of the militants, and he’s ashamed. He takes a gun the man offers him, as much to protect him from the Nigerians as from the nativists. Saeed expects Nadia will be angry about the gun, but she’s not. They have passionate sex that night. Saeed realizes he doesn’t know how to use the gun.