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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Aisha Abdel Gawad debut novel called “Between Two Moons” reflecting post 9/11 America

Aisha Abdel Gawad's debut novel, 'Between Two Moons,' vividly portrays the struggles of young Muslims in post-9/11 America.

In her debut novel, “Between Two Moons,” Aisha Abdel Gawad masterfully captures the challenges faced by young Muslims in America, particularly in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Drawing from her own experiences as an Arab-American growing up in Brooklyn, Gawad weaves a poignant coming-of-age story set over the course of Ramadan, exploring themes of faith, family, and the impact of Islamophobia on a close-knit community.

Palpable Shift in Perceptions

Gawad’s own background as the child of Egyptian and Scottish parents shaped her unique perspective on the post-9/11 world. She vividly recalls the palpable shift in how Arabs and Muslims were perceived after the tragic events of 9/11. Suddenly, they were burdened with the pressure of proving their “moderation” or “goodness” to others, leading to a constant sense of suspicion and surveillance.

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Exploring Sisterhood and Female Friendship

At the heart of “Between Two Moons” lies a powerful exploration of sisterhood and female friendship. As the novel revolves around twin sisters, Amira and Lina, Gawad delves into the development of their bond amid the ever-looming threat of surveillance. In a society where women’s voices are often suppressed, Gawad portrays how women become mirrors for one another, creating a refuge in their deep inner lives that remain hidden from external scrutiny.

Capturing the Spectre of Islamophobia

Through a gripping narrative, Gawad brilliantly portrays the spectre of Islamophobia that haunts the novel’s characters and the wider Muslim community. The plot unfolds with events like the police raid on an Arab business, the assault on an elderly imam, and the vandalism of a mosque, all driven by prejudiced views and anti-Arab sentiments. These incidents reflect the deep-rooted fears and biases that continue to affect Muslim Americans to this day.

Role of Surveillance and Dehumanization

Gawad’s novel delves into the pervasive surveillance of Arabs and Muslims post-9/11, drawing inspiration from real NYPD documents. The community lives under the watchful eye of authorities, instilling a constant fear of deportation and a sense of being perceived as potential threats. Gawad challenges readers’ assumptions about the “enemy” and highlights how such practices have affected various marginalized groups beyond Muslims.

An Ode to Arab-American Community

Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, serves as the backdrop for Gawad’s narrative, which boasts one of the largest Arab-American communities in the United States. Despite the area’s diversity, Gawad reveals the troubling reality of segregation along racial, ethnic, and economic lines. Her experiences while working at the Arab American Association of New York influenced the novel’s fictional center, showcasing the organization’s essential role in helping immigrants find support and a sense of belonging.

Journey to Becoming a Writer

Gawad’s journey from a young girl with a passion for writing to a published author showcases determination and perseverance. Encouraged by her parents, who nurtured her love for books and diverse cultural experiences, Gawad eventually pursued an MFA program to realize her dream of becoming a writer. After an 11-year journey, “Between Two Moons” stands as a testament to her exceptional talent and storytelling abilities.

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Aisha Abdel Gawad’s debut novel, “Between Two Moons,” serves as a powerful reminder of the lasting impact of 9/11 on Arab-American communities and the ongoing struggle against Islamophobia. Through the lens of sisterhood and faith, Gawad crafts a moving narrative that touches the hearts of readers and critics alike. As her novel continues to garner acclaim, her fans eagerly anticipate future works from this exceptional new talent, hoping they will shed further light on the diverse experiences of marginalized communities in America.