Sahar Mustafah

The Beauty of Your Face

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The New York Times Staff Pick
The Best Fiction by Women in 2020 Marie ClaireBest Feminist Books Coming Out in 2020 Ms. MagazineMost Anticipated Books of 2020 LithubTwenty Must-Read Books of 2020 Bustle
Most Anticipated Books of 2020 Real SimpleMost Anticipated Books The Millions
One of 15 Books By Women to Read in 2020 The Lily
Starred Review Shelf Awareness'Stunning' Marie Claire
'Striking' Rebecca Makkai
'With grace, empathy and wisdom' Ms. Magazine
'Indelible' Laila Lalami
'Insightful' Rajia Hassib
'Richly empathetic' Maurice Carlos Ruffin
'Haunting' Lit Hub
'Exquisite' Shelf Awareness
'Soared beyond my wildest expectations' Terry Galvan, Third Coast Review
'Gripping' Lorraine Kleinwaks, Enchanted Prose
'One of my favorite books this year' Susie Boutry, Novel Visits
'Lyrical prose, achingly real characters, and a driving narrative' Christine Maul Rice, Hypertext Magazine
'Profound' Emma Doettling, The Michigan Daily
Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the principal of Nurrideen School for Girls, a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs. One morning, a shooter―radicalized by the online alt-right―attacks the school.
As Afaf listens to his terrifying progress, we are swept back through her memories: the bigotry she faced as a child, her mother’s dreams of returning to Palestine, and the devastating disappearance of her older sister that tore her family apart. Still, there is the sweetness of the music from her father’s oud, and the hope and community Afaf finally finds in Islam.
The Beauty of Your Face is a profound and poignant exploration of one woman’s life in a nation at odds with its ideals.
'A story of survival and hope, forgiveness and connection. It’s not just about the beauty of Afaf’s face, as the title implies, it’s about the beauty of her heart and the hearts of the people around her, no matter how lonely or scared they are' The New York Times
'Stunning… A timely family saga with faith and forgiveness at its core' Marie Claire
'The Beauty of Your Face is a striking and stirring debut, one that reaches its hands straight into the fire. Sahar Mustafah writes with wisdom and grace about the unthinkable, the unspeakable, and the unspoken' Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer finalist for The Great Believers
'With grace, empathy and wisdom, this robustly written debut examines an American Muslim immigrant experience against the backdrop of a school shooting' Ms. Magazine
'Mustafah’s arresting debut about a mass shooting at a Muslim girls’ school grapples with issues of faith, identity, hatred, and forgiveness… Throughout, Mustafah powerfully demonstrates the human capacity for redemption and renewal. This inviting, topical tale will stay with readers' Publishers Weekly
'Profound insights and glittering words . . . a complex generational novel that is all too relevant in today’s divided America… the message rings loud and clear. Maybe violence could be avoided if people took the time to understand other people’s pain and find commonalities in their shared human experience' The Michigan Daily
'Mustafah writes impressively and convincingly of her Palestinian American immigrant community… an adept author well worth reading' Terry Hong, Booklist
'Mustafah's novel is frequently moving, especially in her depictions of Afaf's inner state. The sections of the book that describe Afaf's early life are especially vivid' Kirkus
'The indelible story of a Palestinian-American woman whose life is torn apart by loss, finds solace in her faith, and faces a violent threat that tests how far she has come. Sahar Mustafah writes about family and community with compassion and sensitivity. The Beauty of Your Face is a gift to readers' Laila Lalami, award winning author of The Other Americans and The Moor’s Account
'Rich with details of Islamic faith and Arab culture, The Beauty of Your Face is an insightful and beautifully-drawn study of the complexity of being an American Muslim immigrant. This compelling novel brilliantly challenges the notion of a unified religious and ethnic narrative while laying bare the most universal of desires: for love, acceptance, and belonging' Rajia Hassib, author of In the Language of Miracles
'Mustafah writes with a grace and precision that shows a deep understanding for the ways trauma can distort a life. The Beauty of Your Face is a richly empathetic work about the power of faith, family, and love' Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of We Cast a Shadow
'The Beauty of Your Face explores faith, family, and hate with haunting precision' Emily Firetog, Lit Hub
'Sahar Mustafah's skillfully nuanced debut novel, The Beauty of Your Face, traces one family's challenges in adjusting to life in the United States through the perspective of first-generation Palestinian American Afaf Rahman … In recounting the specifics of Afaf's journey of faith and self-discovery, Mustafah paints a universal picture of coming to understand oneself … With exquisite pacing, Mustafah builds suspense and also Afaf's quiet courage' Shelf Awareness
'Mustafah's literary voice soared beyond my wildest expectations … Mustafah's prose stays clear, bright, and even lighthearted. Moments of laughter and hope slice emotionally taxing content into digestible portions … Many coming-of-age stories are about finding oneself by breaking away. By contrast, The Beauty of Your Face is about finding oneself by reaching deep and out into one's community and found family. I felt like I was in Afaf's shoes, in her mind and soul, for every second of every page' Terry Galvan, Third Coast Review
'The beauty of this gripping novel is its elegance in seeking our understanding towards Muslim Americans in a world too terrified to understand. The prose is gorgeously sad and empowering despite all the hatred and violence Afaf and her unraveling family endure. Prose that lets us feel what it's like to be victimized by racism towards Muslims — to the extent anyone other than the oppressed can truly feel that … Mystery, secrets, Islamophobia are all wrapped up in a very moving drama' Lorraine Kleinwaks, Enchanted Prose
'One of my favorite books this year … Sahar Mustafah told a wonderful story and I loved the structure' Susie Boutry, Novel Visits
'Lyrical prose, achingly real characters, and a driving narrative . . . The Beauty of Your Face reaches into the grab-bag of what it means to be American to focus on one family’s experience, stripping away the worn pretense of America-as-savior, laying bare a more brutal reality: America struggling to right itself with the weight of racism, hate, misinformation, and xenophobia. … Mustafah’s emotional generosity allows her to deftly juggle the novel’s complexity with bracing honesty and a level gaze' Christine Maul Rice, Hypertext Magazine
This book is currently unavailable
271 printed pages
Original publication
Publication year
Legend Press
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  • Ranjha Fairyhas quotedlast year
    She’s so young. Would you not let her blossom a bit more?

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