AN INDIGO BEST BOOK OF 2020 • A GLOBE AND MAIL BEST INDEPENDENT READ FOR FALL 2020 • AN APPLE BOOKS BEST BOOK OF 2020 • A CBC BOOKS BEST CANADIAN FICTION BOOK OF 2020 • A NOW MAGAZINE TOP TEN BOOK OF 2020 • SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2021 EVERGREEN AWARD
"Be prepared for this novel to stay with you for a long time, especially its ending."—GLOBE AND MAIL
"[An] extraordinary book... packed with discovery and jarring emotional arcs."—TORONTO STAR
"Penetrating and subtle ... [An] immersive, absorbing portrait."—EDEN ROBINSON
"Explores with courage and storytelling finesse the harsh truths within the ideals of kinship and community." —DAVID CHARIANDY
"An urgent and passionate read." —VIVEK SHRAYA
"Visceral and emotional... a courageous feat."—QUILL & QUIRE (starred review)
A brave, soulfully written feminist novel about inheritance and resistance that tests the balance between kinship and the fight against customs that harm us.
When Sharifa accompanies her husband on a marriage-saving trip to India in 2016, she thinks that she’s going to research her great-great-grandfather, a wealthy business leader and philanthropist. What captures her imagination is not his rags-to-riches story, but the mystery of his four wives, missing from the family lore. She ends up excavating much more than she had imagined.
Sharifa’s trip coincides with a time of unrest within her insular and conservative religious community, and there is no escaping its politics. A group of feminists is speaking out against khatna, an age-old ritual they insist is female genital cutting. Sharifa’s two favourite cousins are on opposite sides of the debate and she seeks a middle ground. As the issue heats up, Sharifa discovers an unexpected truth and is forced to take a position.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Acclaimed Indian Canadian author Farzana Doctor tells an emotionally complex story about tradition, feminism, and religion. When her husband takes an eight-month sabbatical to teach in Mumbai, Sharifa, Doctor’s heroine, decides to accompany him and reconnect with her extended Indian family. Unfortunately, she quickly discovers that the heritage she hopes to celebrate frequently conflicts with her personal beliefs and ideals. This tension comes to an explosive head when Sharifa is drawn into a fierce family battle around the practice of khatna—also known as female genital mutilation. Doctor explores the story’s difficult subject matter in a warm, friendly manner. Seven isn’t a contentious polemic for or against the practice of khatna, but a thoughtful exploration of the confusing space where culture, family, and personal identity intersect, and where common ground is often hard to find.