Syrian immigrant Khadra Shamy is growing up in a devout, tightly knit Muslim family in 1970s Indiana, at the crossroads of bad polyester and Islamic dress codes. Along with her brother Eyad and her African-American friends, Hakim and Hanifa, she bikes the Indianapolis streets exploring the fault-lines between "Muslim" and "American."
When her picture-perfect marriage goes sour, Khadra flees to Syria and learns how to pray again. On returning to America she works in an eastern state -- taking care to stay away from Indiana, where the murder of her friend Tayiba's sister by Klan violence years before still haunts her. But when her job sends her to cover a national Islamic conference in Indianapolis, she's back on familiar ground: Attending a concert by her brother's interfaith band The Clash of Civilizations, dodging questions from the "aunties" and "uncles," and running into the recently divorced Hakim everywhere.
Beautifully written and featuring an exuberant cast of characters, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf charts the spiritual and social landscape of Muslims in middle America, from five daily prayers to the Indy 500 car race. It is a riveting debut from an important new voice.
About the Author
Born in Damascus, Syria, Mohja Kahf came to the U.S. as a child. Kahf is an associate professor of comparative literature at Rutgers. Her first book of literary scholarship is Western Representations of the Muslim Woman: From Termagant to Odalisque (University of Texas Press, 1999). She is also the author of a book of poetry, E-mails from Sheherazad (University Press of Florida 2003). Kahf is a member of the national group RAWI (Radius of Arab American Writers).