By Leila Aboulela

Grove Press, Black Cat, Paperback, 9780802170149, 276pp.

Publication Date: August 2005


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.

About the Author
LEILA ABOULELA was born in Cairo and grew up in Khartoum. She is the author of two novels: The Translator, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Minaretboth longlisted for the Orange Prize and the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her book of short stories, Coloured Lights, published in 2001, contained her story The Museum, which made her the first winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing. Leila Aboulela lives between Doha and Aberdeen. Visit her website at www.leila-aboulela.com.