One of the New York Times's 100 Notable Books of 2020
Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, The Beauty of Your Face is “a story of outsiders coming together in surprising and uplifting ways” (New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice).
The Beauty of Your Face tells a uniquely American story in powerful, evocative prose. Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the principal of 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, and into a profound and “moving” (Bustle) exploration of one woman’s life in a nation at odds with its ideals.
About the Author
Sahar Mustafah is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants. Her short story collection Code of the West won the 2016 Willow Books Prize for Fiction. She lives and teaches high school students outside of Chicago.
Stunning.… A timely family saga with faith and forgiveness at its core. — Marie Claire
How each member of the family finds his or her footing is worthy of an entire series of books, but Afaf’s particular strain of determination and optimism is what propels you to the end of this one.… A story of survival and hope, forgiveness and connection. — Elisabeth Egan - New York Times Book Review
Rich and complicated. — Heather John Fogarty - Los Angeles Times
The Beauty of Your Face explores faith, family, and hate with haunting precision.
— Emily Firetog - Literary Hub
A striking and stirring debut, one that reaches its hands straight into the fire. Sahar Mustafah writes with wisdom and grace about the unthinkable, the unspeakable, and the unspoken. — Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of The Great Believers
The indelible story of a Palestinian American woman whose life is torn apart by loss, finds solace in her faith, and faces a violent threat that tests how far she has come. Sahar Mustafah writes about family and community with compassion and sensitivity. The Beauty of Your Face is a gift to readers.
— Laila Lalami, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of The Other Americans
Sahar Mustafah writes with a grace and precision that shows a deep understanding for the ways trauma can distort a life. The Beauty of Your Face is a richly empathetic work about the power of faith, family, and love.
— Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of We Cast a Shadow
A masterpiece, a moving account of our community, and one of the best renderings of a devout Muslim woman’s inner life and aspiration. Sahar Mustafah’s descriptions and attention to detail are seamless and cinematic — Khaled Mattawa, author of Tocqueville and MacArthur Fellowship recipient
Rich with details of Islamic faith and Arab culture, The Beauty of Your Face is an insightful and beautifully drawn study of the complexity of being an American Muslim immigrant. This compelling novel brilliantly challenges the notion of a unified religious and ethnic narrative while laying bare the most universal of desires: for love, acceptance, and belonging.
— Rajia Hassib, author of A Pure Heart
At once vast and intimate. Mustafah’s vulnerable portrait of one of Chicago’s lesser-known immigrant communities showcases the diversity and resilience of survivors.… In the hands of a less-skilled storyteller, this charged political narrative could easily have become heavy-handed or navel-gazing—but Mustafah’s literary voice soared. — Terry Galvan - Third Coast Review