Every story Mohja Kahf writes for Sex and the Umma makes me imagine that we’re back in the days of Dickens, with crowds of Kahf-groupies waiting impatiently for the next episode. Much more than any of the experiments I’ve seen over the last few years, including Stephen King’s The Green Mile, Kahf’s relatively low-tech (“Look, Ma, no hypertext!”) Scheherazade-style story cycle gives me some of the excitement of watching a work develop slowly in front of my eyes. I’ve been sulking for the last few weeks, waiting for her next offering; with The Rites of Diane, I have my fix.

An excerpt: “Chand and Diane spent the entire [bridal] shower being shocked at the Arab women. Chand, a nice Pakistani girl who was supposed to go to med school after college but got married and pregnant instead, brought Reyann an elegant wedding photo album. Quiet, serious Diane, who has known Reyann since their Jersey City Community College days when Diane was a new Muslim, worried she was bordering on the too-intimate when she got her a set of breakfast-in-bed trays.

Then Reyann opens the first gift, from her irrepressible Aunt Maryam, and it’s crotchless panties, three pair, in black, white, and fire-engine red, and Diane’s mouth falls open and Chand says ‘This is so not what my desi friends would get from their aunties as a bridal shower gift’.”





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