Read by Soneela Nankani, Leon Nixon, Chanté McCormick, Jade Wheeler and Amir Abdullah
About The Book
Finalist for the 2023 National Book Award for Fiction
A groundbreaking debut collection portraying the lived experiences of Black Muslims grappling with faith, family, and freedom in America.
In Temple Folk, Black Muslims contemplate the convictions of their race, religion, economics, politics, and sexuality in America. The ten stories in this collection contribute to the bounty of diverse narratives about Black life by intimately portraying the experiences of a community that resists the mainstream culture to which they are expected to accept and aspire to while functioning within the country in which they are born.
In “Due North,” an obedient daughter struggles to understand why she’s haunted by the spirit of her recently deceased father. In “Who’s Down?” a father, after a brief affair with vegetarianism, conspires with his daughter to order him a double cheeseburger. In “Candy for Hanif” a mother’s routine trip to the store for her disabled son takes an unlikely turn when she reflects on a near-death experience. In “Woman in Niqab,” a daughter’s suspicion of her father’s infidelity prompts her to wear her hair in public. In “New Mexico,” a federal agent tasked with spying on a high-ranking member of the Nation of Islam grapples with his responsibilities closer to home.
With an unflinching eye for the contradictions between what these characters profess to believe and what they do, Temple Folk accomplishes the rare feat of presenting moral failures with compassion, nuance, and humor to remind us that while perfection is what many of us strive for, it’s the errors that make us human.
Aaliyah Bilal was born and raised in Prince George’s County, Maryland. She has degrees from Oberlin College and the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies. She’s published stories and essays with The Michigan Quarterly Review and The Rumpus. Temple Folk is her first short story collection.
"This unique collection of 10 short stories gathers together various insights on the Black Muslim experience in America. Amir Abdullah, Chanté McCormick, Soneela Nankani, Leon Nixon, and Jade Wheeler come together to dramatize these widely differing voices. Together, they tackle family issues and sexuality, discrimination and grief. From a daughter who is grieving to another daughter who is tracking her father's infidelity—this is an interesting collection of fictional experiences that fans of literature will sink into. Each story has its own focus and cast of characters. The mix of female and male narrators allows the listener to switch more easily among the various stories. This is a volume one can listen to at will, hopping around as the various titles of the individual stories pique one’s interest."