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3.53  ·  Rating Details ·  1,604 Ratings  ·  211 Reviews
Leila Aboulela's American debut is a provocative, timely, and engaging novel about a young Muslim woman -- once privileged and secular in her native land and now impoverished in London -- gradually embracing her orthodox faith. With her Muslim hijab and down-turned gaze, Najwa is invisible to most eyes, especially to the rich families whose houses she cleans in London. ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published August 19th 2005 by Grove Press, Black Cat (first published June 6th 2005)
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The Complete Persepolis by Marjane SatrapiDoes My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-FattahReading Lolita in Tehran by Azar NafisiTen Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-FattahI Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Best Books by Muslim Women
14th out of 139 books — 227 voters
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Orientalist cover art
1st out of 42 books — 23 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 04, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it
This is a simple and clearly written story which takes a different look at the tensions within Islam, between men and women and life as an immigrant. Najwa is born into a high-ranking family in Sudan; she is a Muslim, but a secular one which consists mostly of good works. Her father is a business man who is closely connected to the regime. Najwa is studying to go to university and her life is westernised and privileged. She meets Anwar, also studying, but he is radical and left wing. He teases ...more
Dec 30, 2013 Bilqis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite
I accidentally found this book in my college library amongst all the famous writers hiding away.
the cover of the book appealed to me so I took it home. It was about two years ago and that was when my reading career began. was not much of a reader before.

Now all I can remember is that I cried through it and didn't quite understand the ending. But this book always lingered on in my mind.
After two years things changed, a lot of things happened, at that point I remembered what I read in this book,
Jul 30, 2007 Mark rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Like "Brick Lane," this book allows us an intimate glimpse inside the life of an expatriate Muslim woman in London. But this heroine knew a life of extreme privilege when she was younger, until her family is shattered by a coup that overthrows her father and their security. Now she does servant work of the kind she used to have others do for her. And as her life evolves, she moves toward the faith that she has always been a part of but has never embraced. This is a beautiful, gentle book that ...more
I found Aboulela's description of life as a Sudanese woman struggling to make a living in London to be interesting, but Minaret was largely a morality tale. There was a hint of ambiguity in the ending which signalled that perhaps Najwa's conversion was not the only thing needed to bring her contentment, but overall this was a book in which the devout were the good guys and the atheists, or even the Muslim women who didn't want to veil, were shallow and venal. It was far too two-dimensional in it ...more
عبدالله ناصر

رواية جميلة جداً للكاتبة السودانية القديرة ليلى أبو العلا بترجمة قديرة أيضاً لا يعيبها سوى العشرات من الأخطاء المطبعية - بدون مبالغة - . الرواية تتنقل بين الماضي و الحاضر في حرفنة تستحق الإشادة لابنة من علية القوم تعيش في السودان ببذخ حتى يحدث الانقلاب الذي يرمي بوالدها إلى العالم الآخر و يرمي بهم دون شفقة إلى الغربة . هناك سيحلو للزمن أن يتباهي بقدرته بعزيز القوم . سيقطف رؤوساً و يمهل أخرى قليلاً من الوقت حتى يقطفها في انقلاب آخر . و في هذا الوقت لن يعرف السودان الراحة كما لن يعرفها الناس . و ل
Sarah Lameche
I found this book a quick easy read. The story could've been great but for me it had no substance. Basically she was rich then she wasn't. She wasn't a practising Muslim, then she was. This book for me really isn't for adults. Teenagers yes. To be honest it just didn't have any oomph. 'SPOILER ALERT'. I didn't even care when her father or mother died. I'm not even sure that I cared too much for her either.
It didn't my emotions going and I felt I was reading it just for the sake of it. Sorry I c
Sep 08, 2013 Darcy rated it liked it
My knowledge of Sudan, the Muslim religion, and those exiled to England after the political upheaval of the 80s is minimal, so I was intrigued by many of the issues in this novel. Overall, it was just a so-so read for me though.

Najwa’s journey to spiritual fulfillment was the most satisfying part of this novel. Her voice was intimate and easy to identify with. I was pleasantly surprised to find that she chose to take what is considered a more conservative and prudish path in life. I think the a
Sep 22, 2008 Kay rated it really liked it
I found this to be an excellent novel, and was a little upset that my local bookshop had filed it under something peculiar like 'black fiction'. This is a good story because it's a good story - that it illuminates an area of life many of us in the West find mysterious shouldn't lead to it being relegated to the 'minority interest' part of the book world.

Aboulela has written about what makes a rather superficial young woman become a devout older one, and how her religious beliefs shape her conduc
Astari Masitha
I was caught by mother for reading ronggeng dukuh paruk which was a book she didn't agree that I had to keep on reading. So she suggested Minaret which she said was more appropriate.

I'll say something straight about Najwa, A.K.A. the main character in this book. I have to admit she is a tough teenager. The misery she felt, from the death of her father, followed by her mother, and his brother in jail, didn't make a single doubt in her heart to go back to the path she believed, was right.

After h
Aug 30, 2014 طَيْف rated it really liked it
"إنني، أحوم حول نفسي، أعجز عن التقدم، أنكفئ، ماض مشطوب، تمتمة"

أحببت الرواية وكان لقراءتها وقع خاص خلال رحلتي بالطائرة...فليلى أبو العلا...سودانية في بلاد المهجر...تكتب عن نجوى المهاجرة إلى بريطانيا في ظل ظروف سياسية تعرضت خلالها لتغييرات جذرية في حياتها

"لقد جارت علي الأيام، وانزلقت إلى مكان سقفه منخفض، لا يسمح بكثير حركة"

من عائلة ثرية مستقرة في الخرطوم إلى وحدة وحاجة في بريطانيا...واستطاعت أن تنجو...ربما بالوصفة الناجعة التي افترضتها ليلى في روايتها...مع أن أسباب النجاة كثيرة...ولكن للكاتبة رؤية
Mar 09, 2014 Jessica rated it it was ok
The back cover promises that this book is " a stunning and insightful novel about one woman's journey toward spiritual peace." Whoever wrote that, though, was a lil bit crazy. Yes, this book does follow one woman's conversion from a secular, Westernized Muslim to a more conservative one - and gives that story a terrific twist because the secular lifestyle was in Sudan and the more conservative developments occur in bustling London. But there's precious little peace to be had here - the final ...more
Kasey Jueds
Mar 21, 2012 Kasey Jueds rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I started out feeling lukewarm about this book... wanting to keep reading because the setting (Sudan) and context were so new and compelling to me, but otherwise not really entranced. Then (I'm not sure when exactly--maybe about a third of the way through?) I started to love the main character, Najwa, and didn't want to put the book down. Maybe this didn't happen for a while because Najwa isn't really that likeable in the beginning; she's actually pretty shallow. But then her life changes ...more
May 06, 2013 Em rated it really liked it
the story of Najwa, a girl born to affluent and politically ambitious parents in Sudan, whose life started degrading when her father was accused of treachery and corruption (which he possibly did) when the old regime fell to the new in the nineties. She had to flee to London as asylum seeker along with her mother and twin brother, and none of them recovered, either mentally or monetarily. The book goes on to describe how she faced her hardships and how she evolved into a strong person towards ...more
Leslie Reese
Sep 05, 2016 Leslie Reese rated it really liked it
Shelves: african-authors
3.5 -4.0 stars. Up until about the last 50 pages this book was a 4.5 - 5 star book for me but then it seemed rushed with a slight sensational twist that didn’t fit well with the first part of the book. This is my second Leila Aboulela read and I look forward to reading Lyrics Alley.
Jul 09, 2012 Sharmila rated it it was amazing
This book is written beautifully and I cannot say there is anything I don't like about it. I can easily relate to her about faith being important part in life.It looks into the mind of a faithful muslim women, who is true to herself. 5*
May 13, 2014 Chris rated it it was ok
Minaret is an easy reading, if disappointing, story. Najwa was born into a wealthy, well connected Sudanese family, but is forced to flee with her mother and brother into exile after a political coup. As time drags on, Najwa makes the transition from wealthy, carefree teenager to middle-aged, religious housekeeper. This could have been a fascinating story, but Leila Aboulela’s tale wanders about, never really making a point, and resorts to cheap tricks to keep readers interested. The overarching ...more
Nov 04, 2014 Darkowaa rated it liked it
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I preferred the beginning of this novel. The storyline towards the middle got a bit annoying. Najwa (the protagonist) falling in love with Tamer, her employer’s son was a bit strange to me. Why is this almost 40 year old in love with a 19 year old university student? I found Tamer way too judgmental as he thought he was a better muslim than others. Najwa was a little too naiive for my liking. Her fate was very sad, as she was orphaned quite
Oct 23, 2016 Val rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wpff-main
Najwa comes from a privileged Sudanese family; her mother's family own land and businesses, while her father is a minister in Nimeiri's government. She and her twin brother are students at Khartoum University when the 1985 coup overthrows Nimeiri, her father is arrested and the rest of the family flee to London. This social and political background to the story is very well done, illuminating the state of the country while staying true to the characters. Najwa and her family are urban and ...more
Zainab Bakry
Nov 23, 2013 Zainab Bakry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, drama
I love real books that deal with real people going through real life situations, and this is one of them.

Through Najwa, I have experienced life in Sudan in a way I haven't before- even though I myself am Sudanese and have lived in Sudan for 6 years.

What I love about the book is how it deals with the idea of escapism; passing through life without actually living it. Each one of us uses some mean of escaping during situations we feel we cannot handle. And in one form or another, all of the charac
This is Leila Aboulela's first novel. I read it after reading her other more recent novels The Translator and her latest The Kindness of Enemies. It's interesting to note how much she has grown as an author. This is a good book, not as good as the other two but still well written and engaging. She possesses a talent to take you to the time and place of the characters without being overly wordy or descriptive. As in all her works, Abuleila excellently and accurately depicts the experience of bein ...more
Feb 06, 2008 Julianne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel-happy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 18, 2016 Laolu rated it really liked it
I only set out to fulfil my quota of African lit to read this year and in exchange I got; carthasis, quiet rage and a schooling on Islam that was done in a way could be easily mistook for tepid -as the book itself-, except I found myself deeply overcome after the read.

Besides the easy diction, the book's pace - not fast, not slow -, I think, made it a page-turner. Easy and flowery and precise still.

Najwa (protagonist) might not be intelligent (She definitely could've made some less self-harmin
Angelo Vassallo
Tooking this book, I was wondering if it will be one of the 1000 books which describes the women poor condition in the arabic world, but already from the first pages I realised that it was something different. It is a story of a woman and the story is interesting not because she is muslim, but it is interesting for what she has to tell us, for what she lives, for what she feels, for her daily life, which has nothing to do with being or not muslim. If you are looking for a book about the ...more
Ishta Nandi
Aug 12, 2013 Ishta Nandi rated it liked it
Leila Aboulela writes like some people flirt! A balance between revealing things yet holding out at the same time to lead you on. It works; I was captivated by her tale of loss, and eternal returns. Of letting go so you can hold on. Of drawing karmic circles in an otherwise arbitrary game of musical chairs. In the end you realize she wasn't really holding out to tease you - she told you all she knew; about being Sudanese, about losing yourself in London, in a man, how a spoiled young girl ...more
Jul 24, 2013 Fida added it
The novel greatly depicts the protagonist's life in wealth and her life and after loosing all of her wealth. It defines the real meaning of happiness and peace that can be summoned up by approaching Allah's path and seeking His satisfactory. Very recommended!
Apr 20, 2015 ضُحى rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1436
قبل سنوات قرأت "المترجمة"، وأجد نفس ليلى موجود هنا.
البطلة (نجوى) تعيش الهبوط وهي مدركة وضعها، بينما كانت في علو اجتماعي غير مستثمر .
النسخة مليئة بشتى أنواع الأخطاء، بشكل مبالغ فيه لدرجة أنك تحس أنها دفعت للمطبعة في عجلة من الأمر،
أو أن هناك من يلاحقهم في الأستعجال !
Jan 20, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
An earlier novel than Aboulela's The Translator and more autobiographical (I presume). Not as accomplished, but still, very good & worth reading.
Yati Daud
Apr 20, 2008 Yati Daud rated it liked it
Easy and nice book to read. Najwa's odyssey of loss and found faith is written beautifully.
Вікторія Слінявчук
Главная героиня "Минарета", Наджва, или, как ее называют домашние, Нана - суданка, волею судьбы заброшенная в Великобританию. Наджва выросла в привилегированной богатой семье высокопоставленного чиновника. Но в одной из беднейших стран мира вряд ли можно разбогатеть честным путем. После переворота ее отца обвинили в коррупции и казнили. 19-летняя Наджва вместе с матерью и братом-близнецом нашла убежище в Лондоне, где у семьи была квартира. Омар пошел по кривой дорожке, связался с наркотиками и ...more
Feb 26, 2015 Sofia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Minaret is a nice read and that's it. It's not particularly insightful, the plot isn't riveting, the characters aren't memorable and yet it's nice to have read it because a lot of it was so familiar. Having spent my college and university years studying and working in central London, attending Regent's Park Mosque and feeding the ducks in the park on the way to university, it was all so familiar, it made me rather nostalgic. So the book definitely had an accurate depiction to offer. The story ...more
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FABClub (Female A...: Minaret group discussion (August '16) 9 9 Sep 06, 2016 05:58PM  
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Leila Aboulela grew up in Khartoum, Sudan where she attended the Khartoum American School and Sister School. She graduated from Khartoum University in 1985 with a degree in Economics and was awarded her Masters degree in statistics from the London School of Economics. She lived for many years in Aberdeen where she wrote most of her works while looking after her family; she currently lives and ...more
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“All through life there were distinctions - toilets for men, toilets for women; clothes for men, clothes for women - then, at the end, the graves are identical.” 44 likes
“The Mercy of Allah is an Ocean, Our sins are a lump of clay clenched between the beak of a pigeon. The pigeon is perched on the branch of a tree at the edge of that ocean.It only has to open it's beak” 21 likes
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