When We Were Sisters
LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION 2022
WINNER OF THE CAROL SHIELDS PRIZE FOR FICTION 2023
In this heartrending, lyrical debut work of fiction, Fatimah Asghar traces the intense bond of three orphaned siblings who, after their parents die, are left to raise one another. The youngest, Kausar, grapples with the incomprehensible loss of her parents as she also charts out her own understanding of gender; Aisha, the middle sister, spars with her ‘crybaby’ younger sibling as she desperately tries to hold on to her sense of family in an impossible situation; and Noreen, the eldest, does her best in the role of sister-mother while also trying to create a life for herself, on her own terms.
As Kausar grows up, she must contend with the collision of her private and public worlds, and choose whether to remain in the life of love, sorrow and codependency she’s known or carve out a new path for herself. When We Were Sisters tenderly examines the bonds and fractures of sisterhood, names the perils of being three Muslim American girls alone against the world, and ultimately illustrates how those who’ve lost everything might still make homes in each other.
When We Were Sisters is a beautiful, richly layered exploration of the generosity that is required to raise oneself, to raise others, to build a world where the people you love can feel safe and whole. Fatimah Asghar is an impressive writer precisely because of how she doesn't withhold tenderness, and lets it play and flourish amongst all of the brilliant lyricism, narrative sharpness, and vibrant characters who fill this incredible book -- Hanif Abdurraqib When We Were Sisters is a stunning accomplishment in form, storytelling, and heart. This novel works language into its most jeweled form, into characters, sisters, that will stay with me for the rest of my life -- Safia Elhillo A spellbinding tale of three sisters in an explosion of grief and orphaned heartbreak. A fearlessly raw and heart-stopping portrait of the intimacy of violence, When We Were Sisters pulses with poetic lyricism and raw beauty. A journey into the dark crevices of childhood trauma and loneliness, Fatimah Asghar has written a truly dazzling story -- Julian Delgado Lopera In this captivating, gorgeously written book, Asghar weaves a tale of sisters in the wake of unspeakable loss. Propulsively readable and experimental in form, this is an unflinching look at family, grief and reclamation - of self and other -- Hala Alyan Compelling. . . sometimes lyrical, sometimes heartbreaking. . . skillfully crafted. . . a moving journey. An assured first novel explores the bonds and divides among three orphaned sisters * Kirkus, starred review *
Book experts at your service
What are you looking for?