Reviews of Stay, Daughter
"Open-hearted, often amusing, always vivid and above all, fascinating."
"The complexities and nuances of those born into a traditional world trying to negotiate modernity can only be partially captured in any piece of writing. Yasmin Azad's Stay, Daughter shows us the humour and heartbreak involved in those negotiations. It is not a lighthearted novel about family life. It is a profound reflection on the dilemmas that Muslim women faced and are facing as orthodoxy and identity come up against freedom."
—Radhika Coomaraswamy, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations
"Stay, Daughter, is a gem in the genre of first person accounts of growing up in a Muslim family in a Muslim society. The author's voice is enchanting and ought to take a place beside Fatima Mernissi’s Dream’s of Trespass and Sattereh Farmaian’s Daughter of Persia. Much more needs to be told in this vein."
—Toby Huff Research Associate, Harvard University, Emeritus Professor University of Massachusetts
"An intriguing, surprising and endlessly fascinating glimpse into the lost and extraordinary lives of supposedly ordinary (and, to Western eyes, largely invisible) people."
"A moving, often funny, sometimes anger inducing but ultimately challenging book that conveys women’s agency subtly, Azad’s multi-layered narrative details the everyday of female lives under patriarchy, social change and the simple pleasures of childhood, albeit in a privileged household. Symptomatic of Azad’s capacity to capture complexity is her articulation of love for the same (extended) family that – there’s no other term for it – oppresses her. Easily the best piece of writing in English about Sri Lankan Muslims, in any genre, including the academic, Stay, Daughter is a must read."
—Qadri Ismail, Professor of English, University of Minnesota
"The absolute must read of 2020."
—Perera Hussein Publishing House
About The Book
S tay, Daughter is a coming-of-age memoir that gives an intimate glimpse into the world of Muslims. Set in the colonial citadel of the Galle Fort, the story follows the history of a community that in the late 19th century, breaks with the traditions of the time to give girls a secular education and permission to go out of their homes. Before long, such freedom and exposure to foreign ideas brings heartbreak to many families as their daughters break away from traditional norms.
Against this backdrop unfolds the story of a father and patriarch whose values are rooted in the conservative Islamic culture into which he was born. When in later years he has to negotiate a changing world where women are no longer who they used to be, tragedy unfolds.
Although the book narrates the story of a single family, it draws on a situation almost all Muslims struggle with: the challenge of balancing the rules of orthodox Islam with the freedom and innovations of the modern world.
Yasmin Azad was born and raised in the Galle Fort, Sri Lanka. After obtaining a degree in English from the University of Ceylon, and a brief stint as a lecturer, she moved to the United States in her twenties. She recently retired after many years as a mental health counselor.