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Zaytuna just wants to be left alone to her ascetic practices and nurse her dark view of the world. But when an impoverished servant...

Zaytuna just wants to be left alone to her ascetic practices and nurse her dark view of the world. But when an impoverished servant girl she barely knows comes and begs her to bring some justice to the death of a local boy, she is forced to face the suffering of the most vulnerable in Baghdad and the emotional and mystical legacy of her mother, a famed ecstatic whose love for God eclipsed everything. The Lover (Kindle Direct Publishers, 2019) is a historically sensitive mystery that introduces us to the world of medieval Baghdad and the lives of the great Sufi mystics, washerwomen, Hadith scholars, tavern owners, slaves, corpsewashers, police, and children indentured to serve in the homes of the wealthy. It asks what it means to have family when you have nearly no one left, what it takes to love and be loved by those who have stuck by you, and how one can come to love God and everything He’s done to you.

In our conversation Laury Silvers discusses her transition from writing scholarship to historical fiction, how her research equipped her to give life to 10th century Baghdad in her narrative, the primary and secondary sources that informed her novel, what daily life of diverse social classes would have looked like at that moment, early pious and mystic women, sufi training and practice, questions of race and colorism, and the complex environment women had to navigate in medieval Baghdad. She even gives us a preview of the second book in this series, called The Jealous.


Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy & Religious Studies at Old Dominion University. He is the author of Interpreting Islam in China: Pilgrimage, Scripture, and Language in the Han Kitab (Oxford University Press, 2017). He is currently working on a monograph entitled The Cinematic Lives of Muslims, and is the editor of the forthcoming volumes Muslims in the Movies: A Global Anthology (ILEX Foundation) and New Approaches to Islam in Film(Routledge). You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at kpeterse@odu.edu.