Sahar Mustafah: The Beauty of Your Face
SAHAR MUSTAFAH presents her first novel The Beauty of Your Face, in which a Palestinian American woman wrestles with faith, loss, and identity before coming face-to-face with a school shooter in this searing debut. Mustafah will be in conversation with fellow writer Patricia Ann McNair.
About The Beauty of Your Face:
A uniquely American story told in powerful, evocative prose, The Beauty of Your Face navigates a country growing ever more divided. Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the principal of Nurrideen School for Girls, a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs. One morning, a shooter—radicalized by the online alt-right—attacks the school.
As Afaf listens to his terrifying progress, we are swept back through her memories: the bigotry she faced as a child, her mother’s dreams of returning to Palestine, and the devastating disappearance of her older sister that tore her family apart. Still, there is the sweetness of the music from her father’s oud, and the hope and community Afaf finally finds in Islam.
The Beauty of Your Face is a profound and poignant exploration of one woman’s life in a nation at odds with its ideals, an emotionally rich novel that encourages us to reflect on our shared humanity. If others take the time to really see us, to look into our face, they will find something indelibly familiar, something achingly beautiful gazing back.
SAHAR MUSTAFAH is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants. Her short stories have been awarded the Guild Literary Complex Prize for fiction, a Distinguished Story honor from Best American Short Stories, and three Pushcart Prize nominations, among other honors. She teaches literature and creative writing to high school students outside of Chicago.
PATRICIA ANN MCNAIR is an Associate Professor in the English and Creative Writing Department of Columbia College Chicago, where she received the Excellence in Teaching Award as well as a nomination for the Carnegie Foundation’s US Professor of the Year. Her essay collection And These are The Good Times: A Chicago gal riffs on death, sex, life, dancing, writing, wonder, loneliness, place, family, faith, coffee, and the FBI (among other things) published by Side Street Press was named a finalist for the Montaigne Medal for most thought-provoking book of 2017. The Temple of Air, McNair’s story collection published by Elephant Rock Books, received the Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award, Southern Illinois University’s Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award, and the Society of Midland Authors (US) Finalist Award. McNair’s work has appeared in various anthologies, magazines, and journals and she also writes reviews for the Washington Independent Review of Books. Her short story, “My Mother’s Daughter,” won the Solstice Lit Mag Award for fiction in 2014. She is also published in The Truth of the Matter: Art and Craft in Creative Nonfiction edited by Dinty W. Moore. She’s received numerous Illinois Arts Council Awards and Pushcart Prize nominations in fiction and nonfiction.