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Book Launch For Meike Ziervogel’s Kauthar

A photograph of Meike Ziervogel reading from her novella

On Friday I travelled to The Mosaic Rooms in London for the launch of Meike Ziervogel’s Kauthar. I reviewed the book in August and highly recommend it. It’s the sort that lends itself well to a discussion.

And the book launch was all about discussion; alongside Meike were broadcaster Paul Blezard and playwright Hassan Abdulrazzak. The book is about a white English woman who is trying to find herself in life. Islam fits what she is looking for and so she converts, but she takes it too far.

Meike spoke of the beauty of the physical action of Muslim prayer. She spoke of her own experience as a near-convert herself, the way the religion appealed to her when she was in Dhaka. This near-conversion was one of the starting points for the book; the initial idea sprung from the news that a Belgian woman had converted, gone to Baghdad and blew herself up. Meike wondered about the whys – why the woman would’ve done this. She made a comparison to herself, how she had gone one way in her conversion and this other woman had taken the extreme opposite.

And so Meike went back in her head to why she wanted to convert when she wrote about Lydia, the woman Kauthar was as a young person. The author wanted a mature protagonist – Kauthar is in her thirties – so she could vocalise her feelings better, really put across what she was thinking to the reader. Lydia is searching for a narrative but couldn’t find one because for her in western society there was too much freedom. She needed rules. She doesn’t know what’s fine because no one is telling her. Hassan pointed out the way Lydia is attracted to the rigour of Islam. He said the conversion is written in a true way.

Pitfalls were discussed. Meike knew the intellectual dangers she was opening herself to but that she wouldn’t fall into them. She always knew she wouldn’t be ticking stereotype boxes and wanted to look at the psychological factors that would lead someone to extremes.

The author starts the book with the end; she knew she had to do this and put herself in her character’s shoes to work out where to go. She wanted the character to convert on her own terms. And she had fun playing with idea of the stereotype, that Rafiq, Kauthar’s Muslim husband, might seem like the evil one, except, of course, that he’s not. She let the characters taken on their own lives.

“It’s a book about a woman who doesn’t understand love requires compromise.” She wants to give and receive perfect love, but Rafiq is offering her a love that exists on earth. Does, then, God love her completely? Perhaps not by Kauthar’s standards.

It was an excellent evening; fascinating conversation and much laughter, too. Oh and some news for you: she’s writing book four. Anything more than that would be a spoiler.

Have you read Kauthar? What did you do over the weekend?


Laurie C

November 10, 2015, 11:09 am

Sounds like a wonderful event! I wasn’t familiar with the author before (I missed your earlier review!), but Kauthar sounds intriguing.


November 15, 2015, 5:08 pm

Yay book 4!

This sounds like a fun and fascinating event, I’m glad you enjoyed it :D

I loved Kauthar, it lit up the synapses.



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