Review | What Comes with the Dust | Gharbi M. Mustafa


What Comes with the Dust

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Today is Nazo Heydo’s Wedding. The day she will set herself on fire. Wearing her white gown, Nazo walks toward the bathroom. Once inside, she raises the heavy jerry can over her head. The odor of the kerosene fills her shallow breaths. With focused determination, she strikes the matchstick against the box. Before the flames catch her curly hair, she feels something magical—a motion inside her womb. Another life is kicking within her. 

Would the baby have the blue eyes of Azad Saydo her forbidden lover, or the dark black eyes of the ISIS fighter who had raped her? Nazo is dying to know. 

Nazo is an eighteen-year old Yazidi girl from Shingal in Iraqi Kurdistan. On a dusty August day, ISIS men drag her out of her village together with Sarah, her little deaf mute sister, to be traded as sex slaves. 

Nazo must escape slavery to join her lover. She thinks her Azad is trapped by ISIS with thousands of other Yazidi families at the slopes of Mount Shingal. She blows her dreams into the universe like feathers in the whirl wind and struggles with her fate on the roads she took to avoid it.

How do you review a literary masterpiece judiciously? I asked myself this question at less than 20 pages in. At around 40 I was trying not to cry, and at 60 I was angry. Angry with the world for being filled with injustice and violence, and angry at the author for not bringing us this story sooner. And angry with myself because never will the words that I write carry the same importance as the words within this book.

It is a human responsibility to practice empathy and charity towards others. What Comes with the Dust shows us why that is. When violent, fanatic groups like ISIS exist, the collective others of the world need to come together in love and support to dampen their hateful efforts.

While this book is an excellent story in and of itself, it also shows us the personal narratives in all their gruesome detail that we aren’t hearing about on the news. Mustafa deftly weaves realism with various spiritual traditions that puts any long-held conservative views of the Western world to shame. Mustafa portrays the Yazidi people remaining peacefully curious and respectful of other peoples and beliefs even during the violent inquisition and eventual diaspora they faced. Yes, this is a work of fiction. But Mustafa’s lessons are ones for all to aspire to that are directly applicable to our current political and social climate.


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