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Fritz Agency
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Bloomsbury (May 2005)
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Fiction: general & literary
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MINARET

by Aboulela, Leila

Leila Aboulela's American debut is a provocative, timely, and engaging novel about a young Muslim woman -- once privileged and secular in her native land and now impoverished in London -- gradually embracing her orthodox faith. With her Muslim hijab and down-turned gaze, Najwa is invisible to most eyes, especially to the rich families whose houses she cleans in London. Twenty years ago, Najwa, then at university in Khartoum, would never have imagined that one day she would be a maid. An upper-class Westernized Sudanese, her dreams were to marry well and raise a family. But a coup forces the young woman and her family into political exile in London. Soon orphaned, she finds solace and companionship within the Muslim community. 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. Written with directness and force, Minaret is a lyric and insightful novel about Islam and an alluring glimpse into a culture Westerners are only just beginning to understand.

Leila Aboulela won the first Caine Prize for African Writing. Her new novel The Kindness of Enemies moves back and forth between present day Scotland and nineteenth century Russia. Leila's novels, The Translator, a New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year, Minaret, and Lyrics Alley, were all long listed for the Orange Prize. Lyrics Alley was Fiction Winner of the Scottish Book Awards and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize. Leila's book of short stories Coloured Lights was short-listed for the MacMillan Silver PEN award. Her work has been translated into 14 languages and included in publications such as Granta, The Washington Post and The Guardian. She grew up in Khartoum and now lives in Aberdeen.

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