Review: His Other Wife

A little bit of back story – I first heard about Umm Zakiyyah when I saw the buzz about her South African tour. Before that, I had never come across her work – something that isn’t particularly surprising since I’ve only been reading the work of Muslim authors for about half a year.

I got the chance to hear her speak before I got the chance to read her words and I think that may have hurt my enjoyment just a bit – Umm Zakiyyah is an absolutely phenomenal speaker and the best part about watching or hearing her is the emotion that’s evoked in you.

His Other Wife is a monster novel – my favourite kind. I will admit that I had a very different idea of where this story was going to go when I first read an excerpt. I thought that I’d be reading a story of two women struggling to share the same man. His Other Wife does have a tiny bit of that but it’s about so much more.

Every single character has involved reasons motivating their actions which is a treat. You find yourself vilifying one or the other and then suddenly, there’s a bit of back story that makes their behaviour, while not excusable, a whole lot more human.

I will say one thing. His Other Wife is not an easy or entertaining read. It’s important and valuable and I appreciated it but it wasn’t a fun read that I’d grab any time I wanted to lose some time.

I also found that I didn’t particularly identify with any of the characters. I felt sorry for them and felt annoyed by them but I wasn’t really rooting for anyone’s happy ending. I’m not sure if that’s because my expectations were heightened by listening to Umm Zakiyyah in person but I expected to feel a little more when I reached the end of the book. I expected to grin in delight and instead, I just seemed to feel in abstract that something good had happened.

All in all, this is an amazing piece of work and I do think it’s wonderful to read because of the complexity and relevance of the issues it deals with. But I will say again, this is not an easy read. Go into it knowing that there are heart breaking scenes and that it may lead you to re–examine some of your own understanding.

Final rating: 4 stars out of 5.

For South Africans, all of Umm Zakiyyah’s work is available via Baitul Hikmah, the virtual and physical book store. Worldwide, I believe her books are sold through Amazon as well.

3 thoughts on “Review: His Other Wife

  1. I haven’t had the opportunity to read his other wife as yet but I have read many articles that umm zakiyyah has written. She also wrote the first part of his other wife in a blog or at least that’s how I read it and thats how i was introduced to her work. She is an extremely talented author and deals with many issues otherwise swept under the carpet. I sometimes feel like we are not able to relate to her ideals because the Muslims in America face different issues in comparison to Muslims in South Africa.
    I hadn’t had the opportunity to listen to her but I look forward to reading the book at some time IA.

    Like

  2. I get what you saying… the story was very captivating and it was well written…. But I ended it feeling… Absolutely disappointed
    Also.. The title felt fake… Because it gave the wrong impression of what the book is about.
    And then there’s also the fact of how blatantly she disregarded mazhab… Which we don’t realise but is so so dangerous. More dangerous than u can imagine.

    I also felt like she was shoving her ideals down your throat. Weird I know but… It just seemed like she was coming across too strongly with her opinions. I’ve read many articles and she writes about judging people… VERY judgementally.

    I don’t mind an author having their opinions in their book. But when it feels like they’re shoving it down your throat? It’s too much.

    I think the worst part of it was… I had really high expectations for the book…. And it was such a let down

    Liked by 1 person

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