The Girl in the Tangerine ScarfMohja Kahf
In her first novel, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf, Mohja Kahf, associate professor of English, immerses readers in the world of Khadra Shamy, who grows up in a devout Muslim family in Indiana.
The fictional family and the aunties and uncles of the neighborhood are a cast of characters who nurture, challenge and aggravate the young Khadra, who grows during the course of the novel to become “a woman true to herself.” One of the warmest and most com-plex characters is Téta, who is the protagonist’s Syrian aunt and a composite of a number of women from the author’s life.
The author shows the adult Khadra Shamy using photography to convey a complex picture of Muslim lives. In one scene, she
considers how best to photograph the familiar scene of a prayer hall and decides to use low camera angles to emphasize the experi-ence of prayer.
Within the novel are signals pointing to authors whom Kahf loves. “A caramel colored girl” with a bag of shoes is an echo from the Sandra Cisneros novel The House on Mango Street. One kindly individual is the Quaker neighbor,
Mrs. Moore, whose name comes from a character in E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India.