"In her Muslim hijab, with her downturned gaze, Najwa is invisible to most eyes, especially to the rich families whose houses she cleans." "Twenty years ago, Najwa then at university in Khartoum, would never have imagined that one day she would be a maid. An upper-class, westernised Sudanese, her dreams were to marry well and raise a family. But Najwa's days of innocence ended when a military coup forced the young woman and her family into political exile in London." "The years that follow hold more trials for Najwa and she must face the fact that she has come down in the world. But she finds solace in her visits to the Regent's Park Mosque, companionship among the Muslims she meets there and strength in the hijab she adopts. Her dreams of love may have shattered but her awakening to Islam has brought her a different peace." "Then Najwa meets Tamer, the intense, lonely younger brother of her employer. They find a common bond in faith and slowly, silently, begin to fall in love." Minaret is a portrait of a woman given a second chance at life, and a unique look at the life of a devout Muslim woman in England.
Aboulela's U.S. debut is written in the voice of Najwa, an upper-class Sudanese woman, and covers, episodically, 20 years of her life. A Khartoum teen, Najwa flees to London with her mother and brother when the coup of 1985 leads to her father's arrest and execution. With her mother soon dead and her brother in jail on drug charges, Najwa attempts to negotiate work, love and the ways they get twisted around emigr? politics-and religion. An affair begun in Khartoum with devout, politically engaged, working-class fellow emigre Anwar is threaded in with a later one with Tamer, the contentiously devout, college-age son of the family for which Najwa works as a nanny when in her 30s. The denouements of the two relationships, though separated by more than 10 years, come one after the other; both lead, painfully, to a deepening of Najwa's religious faith. Aboulela was raised in Khartoum and now divides her time between Dubai and Aberdeen, Scotland; a novel (The Translator) and short story collection (Colored Lights) were previously published in the U.K. Aside from some stilted dialogue, she draws Najwa's odyssey of exile, loss and found faith beautifully. Agent, Stephanie Cabot at William Morris. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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December 01, 2007
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