“The first time I ever experienced doubt, I tried to climb over it. Literally. The way I’d been taught, doubt was a seed planted by Satan, the fruit of which led to disobedience. But my doubt had nothing to do with God or the Bible. My doubt was closer to home–though it would take me far from it, eventually, across oceans and continents, stretching bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point before I could return again, finally, at peace with all of who I was.”
Please support your local independent bookseller whenever possible. Check the Indie Bound web site for a book store near you. Nafisa recommends Book Passage in Marin county.
Wise and assured, The Sweetness of Tears is a powerful reminder of the ties that bind us, the choices that divide us, and the universal joys and tragedies that shape us all.
In her second novel, Nafisa Haji returns to the emotional terrain of her well-received debut The Writing on My Forehead to explore the collision of culture and religion, tradition and modernity played out through individual lives. A story of forbidden love and familial dysfunction that interweaves multiple generational and cultural viewpoints, The Sweetness of Tears is a tour de force of secrets, pain, identity, and hope in which a young woman’s quest to find herself leads her to greater truths about the world and life itself.
When faith and facts collide, Jo March – a young woman born into an Evangelical Christian dynasty – wrestles with doubts and questions about who she is and how she fits into the legacy of her faithful family.
Chasing loose threads that she hopes will lead to the truth takes Jo on an unlikely quest across boundaries of language and faith, through chasms of sectarian divides in the Muslim world, against the backdrop of the War on Terror, from California to Chicago, Pakistan to Iraq. As she delves deep into the past, she meets a host of relatives from diverse backgrounds – many of whom she never knew existed – whose experiences are indelibly intertwined with her own. By the end of the journey, she learns that nothing is ever as it seems, and that the most spiritually devoted are often those who once questioned their beliefs the most.
“I close my eyes and imagine the touch of my mother’s hand on my forehead, smoothing away the residue of childhood nightmares. Her finger moves across my forehead, tracing letters and words of prayer that I never understood, never wanted to understand, her mouth whispering in nearly silent accompaniment. Now, waking from the nightmare that has become routine—bathed in sweat, breathing hard, resigned to the sleeplessness that will follow—I remember her soothing touch and appreciate it with an intensity that I never felt when she was alive.”
From childhood, Saira Qader, a Muslim American of Indo-Pakistani descent, has lived her life guided by the stories of her family’s past—secrets and scandals that fueled her own free-spirited rebellion and led her to pursue a career in journalism, bearing witness to the forgotten stories of forsaken people. Now, tragedy has struck, throwing Saira’s life into turmoil, leading her to revisit the stories of those who came before—one grandfather’s work in the struggle for Indian independence, another’s adultery, a beloved great-aunt’s journey to personal independence—all in an effort to come to terms with a secret of her own.
The Writing On My Forehead, published by William Morrow, will be released in the United States in March, 2009. Foreign rights for the novel have been sold in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Israel, Portugal, Brazil, Denmark, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Serbia, and the United Kingdom.