Leila Aboulela’s second novel is about disillusionment and salvation. It charts the inner journey of a soul, and draws poignantly on teachings from the Koran. It is highly informative (particularly about the lives of contemporary female Muslims) and therefore timely, but perplexing.
Its narrator is Najwa, a Sudanese woman caught between two worlds. The snobbish, privileged teenage daughter of a corrupt businessman in Khartoum, who spends her time larking around in short skirts at 1980s pool parties and making a vague attempt at higher education, she finds herself, by 2003, dressed in full hijab as a maid to an Egyptian woman in St John’s Wood.