BENGALURU: Timeliness. It can add much value to a writer’s work. And Tabish Khair’s latest novel ‘Jihadi Jane’ could not have been more timely. It was released in June this year, the same month that Dhaka was attacked by ‘young and educated home-grown terrorists.’
The story revolves around two young British Muslim women who run away to join an extremist-Jihadi outfit in Daesh in Syria. Their story is akin to the US-born terrorist Colleen LaRose whose sexual victimisation at the hands of her father transformed her into a radical Muslim. She’s better known by her codename, Jihad Jane.
That’s how the title of the book, at a glance, with its cover of a woman’s flying hijab appears apt and promises a journey to lands that make headlines.
The novel keeps the reader high with expectations as the author has done justice to the title.
Interestingly, the American and British versions of this latest release is titled ‘Just Another Jihadi Jane.’ The novel tells the story of life of immigrants in England who become aspiring Jihadi women in Syria. The story does not solely revolve around two Muslim girls who happen to be of South Asian origin, it is about an identity which millions of immigrants seek.
And that raises more questions than it answers.
The author himself is an immigrant from India. Tabish grew up and studied in Gaya, a small town of Bihar, did his MA, worked as a journalist and moved to Denmark for his PhD. He teaches at Aarhus University.
Khair is also a poet, and a remarkable one. That’s how we see literary devices like alliteration in sentences spoken by the protagonist on the first page itself.