Colourful story about impact of identity

2009-04-28 00:00

I approached this novel with a certain bias expecting to read the now seemingly tired story of displacement and loss of identity. However, by the end of the book I found myself crying for a good two minutes and then left with that hollow feeling one tends to experience in the aftermath of reading a powerful novel, the type of novel you know has become a part of you.

The Writing on my Forehead is about identity and how the choices we face and make have deep consequences on our lives and the lives of those close to us. The story is told from the point of view of a liberal Muslim woman who is fascinated by the histories of her ancestors and attempts to go foward with her life by seeking answers from the past.

She introduces us to a world of interesting characters each with their own version of the past told through a variety of anecdotes. Each character has a fascinating personality and different view on life. We get a peek into what it means to be an American citizen who is a Muslim woman and not any woman, but one with a fierce determination to live her life the way she wants to.

The story is interesting and touching and resonates with the works of Amy Tan and Shifra Horn. I realised that displacement and the construction and loss of identity is a challenge for most of us living in these postmodern, confusing times and, as the character learns, the past can help you make sense of the present. The novel also gently explores the issue of violence towards American Muslims post September 9/11. Despite all my initial scepticism I thoroughly enjoyed this colourful, lively story.

Qurasha Rajkumar

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