For fans of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and The Narrow Road to the Deep North, a sweeping new novel from the three times Orange Prize longlisted, Scottish Book Award and Caine Prize winner Leila Aboulela.
Natasha Wilson knows how difficult it is to fit in. Born to a Russian mother and a Muslim father, she feels adrift in Scotland and longs for a place which really feels like home.
Then she meets Oz, a charismatic and passionate student at the university where Natasha teaches. As their bond deepens, stories from Natasha's research come to life - tales of forbidden love and intrigue in the court of the Tsar.
But when Oz is suspected of radicalism, Natasha's own work and background suddenly come under the spotlight. As suspicions grow around her, and friends and colleagues back away, Natasha stands to lose the life she has fought to build.
The passages are arresting in their descriptiveness, with beautiful pockets of calm in which the spiritual journey, as advocated by Shamil's Sufi teacher, is explored. - THE INDEPENDENT
The reader flicks back and forth through time, gleaning pleasure and enlightenment through each of the doorways as they go, finishing with a head filled with different nuances on questions politicians demand we reflect upon. - i newspaper
Aboulela's graceful writing style makes for a pleasurable read. - INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY
One of Aboulela's aims - apart from telling a fascinating story with the verve and assurance of a natural novelist - is surely to present a sympathetic picture of Islam to a western readership more accustomed to being what, for devout Muslims, is a distorted and reprehensible version of their faith. - SCOTSMAN
Leila Aboulela was born in Cairo and grew up in Khartoum. She is the author of four novels: THE TRANSLATOR, MINARET and LYRICS ALLEY, all of which were longlisted for the Orange Prize, and THE KINDNESS OF ENEMIES. LYRICS ALLEY won Novel of the Year at the Scottish Book Awards and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, while Aboulela's collection of short fiction, COLOURED LIGHTS, won the Caine Prize. She lives in Aberdeen.