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“Ramadan 2017 was transformatory for me. I wrote , ‘A Virtue of Disobedience’ at night and in these hours the world was speaking to what i was writing. Grenfell happened while I was writing about class inequality. Darren Osborne killed Muslims while I was writing about the far-right. Philando Castille’s killer was acquitted while writing about police brutality- the world was reminding me to write about reality.
Shereen Malherbe’s, The Tower is perhaps one of the best examples of how we can write about our world, in ways that are completely authentic to our lived realities. This is the first novel I have read by a Muslim, about Muslims , that escapes the need to pander to tropes about ‘backwardness’, ‘extremism’ or ‘radicalisation’. The Islam presented in this book isn’t a political identity, it is an Islam that is breathed through every day life- and I will forever love this book for doing that. This book is our entire answer to how you write outside of Orientalism (even internalised). I know so many men like Mo that this book seemed a tribute to them.
Initially I was unsure as to how quickly Malherbe writes of the fire in the tower block, it seemed the most significant part of the plot had been hurried. But as I read on, I realised that actually Malherbe’s empathy is incredible. She helps us to understand that the trauma was never limited to the fire itself, but to everything that came after it too. Rather than gratuitously writing about how the lives were lost, she echoes the significance of the loss through the survivors- a truly masterful way of writing the experience.
The book reminded me of the line by @lowkeyonline: “Rooms where both the extraordinary and the mundane were lived.” It’s in the small and large details of this novel that you really get to appreciate this.
Although I try not to read fiction in Ramadan myself, I’m going to recommend this as Ramadan reading for all. It’s a beautifully written novel and one that will move you deeply.”
Published by Beacon Books, The Tower is available to buy via bookstores and Amazon worldwide.
Review via @TheBookslamist