“In this satisfying, lyrical memoir,” an American woman discovers her true faith—and true love—by converting to Islam and moving to Egypt (Publishers Weekly).
Raised in Boulder, Colorado, G. Willow Wilson moved to Egypt and converted to Islam shortly after college. Having written extensively on modern religion and the Middle East in publications such as The Atlantic Monthly and The New York Times Magazine, Wilson now shares her remarkable story of finding faith, falling in love, and marrying into a traditional Islamic family in this “intelligently written and passionately rendered memoir” (The Seattle Times, 27 Best Books of 2010).
Despite her atheist upbringing, Willow always felt a connection to god. Around the time of 9/11, she took an Islamic Studies course at Boston University, and found the teachings of the Quran astounding, comforting, and profoundly transformative. She decided to risk everything to convert to Islam, embarking on a journey across continents and into an uncertain future.
Settling in Cairo where she taught English, she soon met and fell in love with Omar, a passionate young man with a mild resentment of the Western influences in his homeland. Torn between the secular West and Muslim East, Willow—with her shock of red hair, shaky Arabic, and Western candor—struggled to forge a “third culture” that might accommodate her values as well as her friends and family on both sides of the divide.
Part travelogue, love story, and memoir, “Wilson has written one of the most beautiful and believable narratives about finding closeness with God” (The Denver Post).
In this satisfying, lyrical memoir of a potentially disastrous clash between East and West, a Boulder native and Boston University graduate found an unlikely fit living in Cairo, Egypt, and converting to Islam. Wilson embarked on a yearlong stint working at an English-language high school in Cairo right after her college graduation in 2003. She had already decided that of the three Abrahamic religions, Islam fulfilled her need for a monotheistic truth, even though her school did not include instruction in the Qur'an because "it angered students and put everybody at risk." Once in Cairo, despite being exposed to the smoldering hostility Arab men held for Americans, especially for women, she found she was moved deeply by the daily plight of the people to scratch out a living in this dusty police state tottering on the edge of "moral and financial collapse"; she and her roommate, barely eating because they did not know how to buy food, were saved by Omar, an educated, English-speaking physics teacher at the school. Through her deepening relationship with Omar, she also learned Arabic and embraced the ways Islam was woven into the daily fabric of existence, such as the rituals of Ramadan and Friday prayers at the mosque. Arguably, Wilson's decision to take up the headscarf and champion the segregated, protected status of Arab women can be viewed as odd; however, her work proves a tremendously heartfelt, healing cross-cultural fusion.