We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

Asghar and Zahra

On sale

13th June 2019

Price: £14.99

Desmond Elliott Prize, 2020

Select a format

Selected: Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781473697225

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.


Childhood friends Asghar and Zahra were born into the same British Muslim community in west London. But they grow up into very different people. Asghar is a shy boy nervous of stepping outside his family’s comfort zone, while Zahra is an ambitious woman who has just finished her degree at Cambridge.

The novel opens on their wedding day as friends and family wonder what could possibly have brought this odd couple together. After a comically disastrous honeymoon, painful secrets from the past throw the relationship further off-balance. And then there’s the sinister preacher taking a keen interest in them . . .

A funny, sympathetic and very human novel about the first year of a marriage, and the difficulties of reconciling the sometimes conflicting demands of family, religion and society, Asghar and Zahra is the debut of a striking new talent.


A wonderful achievement; an invigorating reminder of the power fiction has to challenge lazy stereotypes, and stretch the reader's heart
Daily Telegraph
Ian McEwan is a tempting comparison (the book has been described as On Chesil Beach for British Muslims) - but this is a funnier account with deeper roots
New Statesman
A sparkling debut . . . a novel of charm and compassion
Literary Review
A tragicomic account of a doomed marriage . . . Rahim's wit propels the novel. Asghar and Zahra sends up everything from piety to quintessential 'Englishness' and casual Islamophobia
Mail on Sunday
A fascinating read
Colm Tóibín, New Statesman, Books of the Year
Funny and wise, and beautifully written