Code of the West by Sahar Mustafah

Code of the West (2017)

Sahar Mustafah


156 pages

“The native and immigrant Palestinians in Sahar Mustafah’s Code of the West live in a world where the threat of violence is part of their existence. Some of these characters exist within their own ethnic enclave, while others travel beyond to unexpected locations. What deeply resonates are the ways Mustafah captures the textures of her characters’ lives, the atmosphere of their homes and families, certain quiet scenes where some unexpected connection or depth of feeling enters, and we are reminded of Chekhov’s observation that heartbreak or great changes can arrive at the most ordinary of moments.”
—David Mura, author of Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei and Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire

“From North Dakota to the West Bank, Mustafah’s characters struggle to find a secure and welcoming home. A man faces anti-Muslim harassment on the job. A woman, dealing with infertility, realizes she has a half-sister. A group of women set up a charity drive at their local mosque, only to be confronted with the ugliness of the Iraq war’s politics. Mustafah renders these characters and their dilemmas with careful detail— and love. This is a marvelous, moving book.”

—Susan Muaddi Darraj, author of A Curious Land

“These are funny, tragic, and mysterious stories that take unexpected turns. And if they stopped there, they’d be worthwhile. But they go further. They do more than tell a good story and keep us turning pages. They upend misconceptions and stereotypes about people too often characterized as so alien and so different from the rest of us that they might as well be from another planet. Mustafah shows us that while differences between people do exist, we inhabit a familiar world—one of heartbreak, contradiction, uncertain futures, and unresolved pasts. Most of all, we find here people who endure, for better or worse. There is a phrase for this, for what these stories are ultimately about–being human.”

—Hayan Charara, author of Something Sinister