AFRIKULT.’S OVERALL RATING:
Set against the backdrop of globalisation, The Kindness of Enemies is an intelligent, complex and inventive novel that deals with the ravages of cultural estrangement. The lives of five characters (Anna, Shalim, Natasha, Oz and Malak) are intricately threaded together by their experience of politics, religion and culture. Crossing different time periods; 19th century Russia and modern day Scotland, landscapes and geography, it delicately explores the Islamic experience with subversive poise. Not only does the writer challenge ideas and perception of Islam, but also opposes popular notions of the conventional Muslim woman. All that said, Leila Aboulela’s jolty disposal of Oz from the narrative, creates a disappointing effect on readers who would have loved to see Oz’s story developed further. The Kindness Of Enemies, with its diplomatic beauty of language and dialectical thrust subtly attempts to repair the image of Islam within the west, which some might find too political to digest. Nevertheless, it is a timely, relevant and daring piece of literature.