The Kindness of Enemies by Leila Aboulela
It’s 2010 and Natasha, a half Russian, half Sudanese professor of history, is researching the life of Imam Shamil.
Imam Shamil is the 19th century Muslim leader who led the anti-Russian resistance in the Caucasian War. When shy, single Natasha discovers that her star student, Oz, is not only descended from the warrior but also possesses Shamil’s priceless sword, the Imam’s story comes vividly to life.
As Natasha’s relationship with Oz and his alluring actress mother intensifies, Natasha is forced to confront issues she had long tried to avoid. The issues are of her Muslim heritage. When Oz is suddenly arrested at his home one morning, Natasha realizes that everything she values stands in jeopardy.
Told with Aboulela’s inimitable elegance and narrated from the point of view of both Natasha and the historical characters she is researching, The Kindness of Enemies is both an engrossing story of a provocative period in history.
It is also an important examination of what it is to be a Muslim in a post 9/11 world.
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