Mona Arshi Recommends Books with Tapestries of Silence

By review

By review

To celebrate the publication of Somebody Loves You by Mona Arshi, here's a fantastic list of books that speak of silence.


Mona Arshi says: "Virginia Woolf once famously had a character say: ‘I want to write a novel about silence . . . the things people don't say.’ I too am interested in the nature and texture of silence, particularly that of women. What makes us utter and what keeps us silent and in a world where our silence is increasingly scrutinised. These books each talk to some of these ideas."

Somebody Loves You

Mona Arshi

£11.99 £11.39

The book follows Ruby - daughter, sister, observer - as she opens up her world to the reader. Ruby is mute, and her silence seems to sharpen and heightens her powers of observation, giving the reader glimpses of the everyday and the unexpected that are devastating in their acuity.

Minor Detail

Adania Shibli

£10.99 £10.44

Shibli is a Palestinian writer and translator, and I admire her philosophical approach to language and power and erasure. In this novel she tells the story of a young Palestinian girl who is raped in 1949. Shibli carefully reconstructs the story of this atrocity and the world that allowed it. With clear, clean prose, this book speaks into the gaps and places its fingers into the fissures of silence.

A General Theory of Oblivion

Jose Eduardo Agualusa

£9.99 £9.49

‘While still only a little girl she was horrified by open spaces. She felt upon leaving the house, fragile and vulnerable, like a turtle whose shell had been torn off.’ This novel tells the story of ‘Ludo’, a woman living in Luanda. Ludo is agoraphobic and ends up living alone in the top floor of apartment for 30 years. It’s a disturbing but beautifully written story carried on this eccentric and poetic voice. I don’t think I’ve read anything like it.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou

£8.99 £8.54

This book was one of the first novels that had a big effect on me when I was growing up. I think it still has so much to say about the nature and complexity of silence. It shows us that when horrific things happen, we expect the scream, but instead so often find ourselves retreating into silence. Selective mutism is something that I’m interested in and have explored in my work.


Layli Long Soldier

£10.99 £10.44

Most poets are pathologically curious about silence as well as the ink on the page. This collection of poems is a remarkable commitment to the project of exploring the systemic violence against and cultural erasure of native tribes in the United States through a thoughtful investigation of language. The poet discovers as she writes, illuminating truth through her moving work.

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