“A richly imagined novel about a half-Russian, half-Sudanese professor whose studies of a 19th-century Muslim leader become a portal into his world.” —Travel + Leisure
It’s 2010 and Natasha, a half-Russian, half-Sudanese professor of Islamic studies, is researching the life of Imam Shamil, the nineteenth-century Muslim leader who led the anti-Russian resistance in the Caucasian War. When shy, single Natasha discovers that her star student, Oz, is not only descended from the warrior but also possesses Shamil’s priceless sword, the Imam’s story comes vividly to life. As Natasha’s relationship with Oz and his alluring actress mother intensifies, Natasha is forced to confront issues she had long tried to avoid—that of her Muslim heritage. When Oz is suddenly arrested at his home one morning, Natasha realizes that everything she values stands in jeopardy.
Told with Aboulela’s inimitable elegance and narrated from the point of view of both Natasha and the historical characters she is researching, The Kindness of Enemies is both an engrossing story of a provocative period in history and an important examination of what it is to be a Muslim in a post 9/11 world.
“A versatile prose stylist . . . [Aboulela is] a voice for multiculturalism.” —The New York Times