A Touted Feminist Collection That Falls Way Short of Expectations | ARC Review: Hijabistan by Sabyn

A young kleptomaniac infuses thrill into her suffocating life by using her abaya to steal lipsticks and flash men. An office worker feels empowered through sex, shunning her inhibitions but not her hijab … until she realizes that the real veil is drawn across her desires and not her body. A British-Asian Muslim girl finds herself drawn to the jihad in Syria only to realize the real fight is inside her. A young Pakistani bride in the West asserts her identity through the hijab in her new and unfamiliar surroundings, leading to unexpected consequences. The hijab constricts as it liberates. Not just a piece of garment, it is a worldview, an emblem of the assertion of a Muslim woman’s identity, and equally a symbol of oppression. Set in Pakistan and the UK, this unusual and provocative collection of short stories explores the lives of women crushed under the weight of the all-encompassing veil and those who feel sheltered by it.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a Physical copy of the book by Harper Collins India in exchange for an honest review. However, all the thoughts, feelings and opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Hijabistan is a collection of short stories with one theme in common – all the women in stories are in some way or the other are connected to Hijab.

This book is touted as a feminist read – stories about women, empowering themselves despite and at times because of their hijabs – identities created for their own, be it professional or even sexual freedom in any way they can carve for themselves.

“Everything is a story. And we are all made up of stories, stories we tell others, stories we tell ourselves and stories that we don’t want anyone to know.” 

The one feeling that was prevalent while I read this book was – MORE!. I just wanted more from this collection – I went expecting to be awed, surprised and full admiration and motivation to be something more – something beyond, who I am, right now.  

But, this collection of short stories were, at times sickening, and others were downright confusing – because all I could find within these stories were women who didn’t understand that no matter what you wore, there are always consequences to your actions – no one, not even caged animals, can take any action without consequences. (And no, I am not comparing hijab wearing women with caged animals.)

What I do know is that, I didn’t find any story that could show me that these women understood the boundations on them, yet still acted with maturity – I just wish there had more to this collection; rather than a chaotic collection of stories about women, even I couldn’t connect with.

⭐ ⭐ .75


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