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A Pure Heart  By  cover art

A Pure Heart

By: Rajia Hassib
Narrated by: Ariana Delawari
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Publisher's summary

"Hassib, herself an Egyptian immigrant living in West Virginia, articulates the full-bodied chorus of Egypt's voices." (The New York Times Book Review)

"Exquisite.... Anchoring the story is a pair of Cairo-born sisters whose fates spin in radically different directions in the wake of the Egyptian revolution.... A lovely novel that does a remarkable job of bringing troubling realities to light, and life." (Vanity Fair)

A Real Simple Best Book of the Year (So Far)

A powerful novel about two Egyptian sisters - their divergent fates and the secrets of one family

Sisters Rose and Gameela Gubran could not have been more different. Rose, an Egyptologist, married an American journalist and immigrated to New York City, where she works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gameela, a devout Muslim since her teenage years, stayed in Cairo. During the aftermath of Egypt's revolution, Gameela is killed in a suicide bombing. When Rose returns to Egypt after the bombing, she sifts through the artifacts Gameela left behind, desperate to understand how her sister came to die, and who she truly was. Soon, Rose realizes that Gameela has left many questions unanswered. Why had she quit her job just a few months before her death and not told her family? Who was she romantically involved with? And how did the religious Gameela manage to keep so many secrets?

Rich in depth and feeling, A Pure Heart is a brilliant portrait of two Muslim women in the 21st century, and the decisions they make in work and love that determine their destinies. As Rose is struggling to reconcile her identities as an Egyptian and as a new American, she investigates Gameela's devotion to her religion and her country. The more Rose uncovers about her sister's life, the more she must reconcile their two fates, their inextricable bond as sisters, and who should and should not be held responsible for Gameela's death. Rajia Hassib's A Pure Heart is a stirring and deeply textured novel that asks what it means to forgive, and considers how faith, family, and love can unite and divide us.

©2019 Rajia Hassib (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

“A lovely novel that does a remarkable job of bringing troubling realities to light, and life.” (Vanity Fair)


“A profound and deeply affecting examination of fate and free will, family and identity, sin and redemption, and the unique bond between sisters.” (Buzzfeed’s “Summer Books to Be Excited About”)

“A multifaceted look at the complicated legacies of identity, religion, and politics in Egypt after the Arab Spring emerges. Even the story of the suicide bomber is given careful consideration in this enlightening, heartrending novel.” (Booklist (starred review)