Asghar and Zahra
A John Murray Original
By Sameer Rahim
Asghar and Zahra follows an unlikely couple through the first year of their tumultuous marriage
Asghar and Zahra follows an unlikely couple through the first year of their tumultuous marriage.
Asghar and Zahra were born in the same British Muslim community in west London; both are trying to accommodate their home culture with the world around them. But the superficial similarities between them do not tell the whole story. Their families are rivals involved in running two different mosques: Asghar's is more traditional, while Zahra's is more liberal. Asghar struggles with integrating: he is a shy, closed personality. Zahra is an ambitious and intelligent woman who can't wait to leave her community behind.
Told from both characters' points of view, the novel opens on their wedding day. Asghar sees in Zahra an opening to a world he has never mastered; Zahra sees in Asghar the embodiment of the community she has guiltily abandoned. Each is attracted to what they imagine the other to be - and each discovers, to their cost, that their projections do not match reality...
A funny, sympathetic and very human novel about the difficulties of reconciling the sometimes conflicting demands of family, religion and society, Asghar and Zahra is the debut of a striking new talent.
Sameer Rahim was born and lives in London. After reading English at Cambridge, he worked at the London Review of Books then the Daily Telegraph, becoming Deputy Review Editor. He is now Managing Editor of Prospect magazine, and has also written for the New York Times, the New Statesman and Apollo. From early childhood, he has travelled extensively across the Middle East: Jordan, Lebanon, Israel-Palestine, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as six months studying Arabic in Syria. In 1990, while on holiday in Iraq with his parents, Iraq invaded Kuwait, and he and his family were held as "human-shield" hostages for six weeks by Saddam Hussein. Asghar and Zahra is his first novel.
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- Publication date:
13 Jun 2019
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