Book review of Tight Rope
Author: Sahar Abdul Aziz
The story revolves around Nour, Maryam, Zaid, Shane, Eugene, Russell and the story finally culminates at a protest rally where they meet each other. Nour is a social activist and the main character. A hardworking young Black woman in modern America who undergoes vile racist reactions for her faith and her skin. Maryam is a new convert to the faith and a nurse by profession. Zaid works in his dad’s store.
Without going into the details of the story, I’ll list some of the main concepts which the story talks about that is not usually portrayed in mainstream fiction.
1) Islamophobia – Islamophobia is real. As real as the air. As much as governments and public officials try to shove it off under the rug, the hatred towards a group of people because of their religion is very evident these days. It could be as subtle as a dirty stony stare to more serious such as name calling, bullying or even physical attack. How many novels do you know which talks of Islamophobia in their story and have a central character that grapples with Islamophobic attacks? Well, this is one – give this book a read to view the situation from a different angle – that of a Muslim wrongly targeted by another individual simply because he hates people who follow the religion of Islam.
2) Inherent racism in the Muslim Community – Slurs such as ‘Abeed’, ‘Kallu’ are very common in the Muslim community. In the story, Zaid ‘s father is portrayed as slightly racist though he himself is a victim of a racist attack. He is blind to his own racist thinking against the black community. As an Indian, I can vouch for the anti-black skin sentiments in the Indian Muslim community too.
3) Sikh and other groups of people being targeted by hate fanatics because they look similar to Muslims.
4) The immense sadness and despair caused to a couple due to the death of their child so much so the father ends up being a racist with vile thoughts and irrational mentality and he is ready to be the killer of a person whose religion he thinks is responsible for the death of his child. The mother ends up being a recluse with no interest in life anymore and is eventually admitted into a mental institute.
5) Open minded nature of Zaid as compared to his father who was stuck on to cultural traditions – Zaid, a second generation American, born and bought up in the US, loved attending a Masjid where all sections of community came. This sense of camaraderie appealed to him and he related to this community and felt encouraged to pursue knowledge based on Qurán and Sunnah as opposed to being besieged by his father’s menu of stale traditions and cosmetic rituals. His father and some of the older brethren tried to relegate where he prayed based on their cultural connectivity and expectations. This sense of brotherhood brought with it a fresh perspective and a clarity of thought for Zaid.
Other aspects of the book are that it is divided into chapters each talking about a character hence we can get confused if taking a break from reading. In the middle of the book, the story tends to lag and you wonder when is the crux of the story happening. There are scenes depicting a killer’s views and thoughts.
Overall, a great read which will create a difference in the Muslim Fiction scene. A book about Muslims and Islamophobia by Muslims and people who have undergone the after effects of Islamophobia.
A Muslim woman’s narrative by a Muslim woman.
Bravo to the brave author!
( The Ebook was sent for review. All views and opinion are my own)