Books·Canadian

Washes, Prays

Washes, Prays is a novel in verse by Noor Naga.

Noor Naga

Coocoo is a young immigrant woman in Toronto. Her faith is worn threadbare after years of bargaining with God to end her loneliness and receiving no answer. Then she meets her mirror-image; Muhammad is a professor and father of two. He's also married.

Heartbreaking and hilarious, this verse-novel chronicles Coocoo's spiraling descent: the transformation of her love into something at first desperate and obsessive, then finally cringing and animal, utterly without grace. Her best friend, Nouf, remains by her side throughout, and together they face the growing contradictions of Coocoo's life. What does it mean to pray while giving your body to a man who cannot keep it? How long can a homeless love survive on the streets? These are some of the questions this verse-novel swishes around in its mouth. (From McClelland & Stewart)

Noor Naga is a Canadian-Egyptian writer. She won the 2017 Bronwen Wallace Award for her poem The Mistress and the Ping. She also won the Disquiet Fiction Prize in 2019. Her debut novel American Girl and Boy from Shobrakheit is forthcoming fall 2021.

Interviews with Noor Naga

In her new novel-in-verse Washes, Prays, Noor Naga proposes there is space in CanLit between the Muslim terrorist and saint, for a Muslim mistress. Her book tells the story of a young Muslim woman in Toronto who has an affair with a married man, then faces a spiritual crisis. It's also an exploration of loneliness, longing, faith, and the role of technology in modern love.

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