ASGHAR AND ZAHRA follows an unlikely couple through the first year of their tumultuous marriage
Childhood friends Asghar and Zahra were born into the same British Muslim community in west London. But they grow up into very different people. Asghar is a shy boy nervous of stepping outside his family's comfort zone, while Zahra is an ambitious woman who has just finished her degree at Cambridge.
The novel opens on their wedding day as friends and family wonder what could possibly have brought this odd couple together. After a comically disastrous honeymoon, painful secrets from the past throw the relationship further off-balance. And then there's the sinister preacher taking a keen interest in them . . .
A funny, sympathetic and very human novel about the first year of a marriage, and the difficulties of reconciling the sometimes conflicting demands of family, religion and society, Asghar and Zahra is the debut of a striking new talent.
A wonderful achievement; an invigorating reminder of the power fiction has to challenge lazy stereotypes, and stretch the reader's heart - Guardian
A searching and funny debut novel ... elegant, provocative and clear-eyed - Daily Telegraph
A sparkling debut . . . a novel of charm and compassion - New Statesman
A tragicomic account of a doomed marriage . . . Rahim's wit propels the novel. Asghar and Zahrasends up everything from piety to quintessential 'Englishness' and casual Islamophobia - Literary Review
A fascinating read - Mail on Sunday
Zahra is running away from her past, and good girls don't have pasts. Sameer Rahim shows the differences between them with wit and tenderness, and a wry lemon-twist of satire - The Times
One of the most powerful ideas in the novel, which Rahim handles with great deftness and emotional subtlety, is how Muslim women themselves can act as transmitters of honour culture, even while they rail against it and depict Muslim men as its primary upholders and beneficiaries - TLS
Funny and wise, and beautifully written - New Statesman, Books of the Year