The Harem

“I imagine a crowd of bottle blonde, husky voiced, fishnet-wearing hookers lounging on my couch. They sniff their coke and chat loudly about their Johns.”

How far would you go to be free?

Humorous, though tinged with a sense of the tragic, at times risqué, and utterly contemporary, The Harem is a fast-paced novel about young Asian women and their quest for freedom.

Farina has only one dream: to be free and move away from Peckville, a Muslim ghetto in a large city. She is eager to escape the clutches of her strict parents who will not let her drink, party or have any kind of contact with males. As soon as she turns eighteen, she sets her dream in motion and gets her own apartment. The only problem is that her minimum-wage job leaves her feeling anything but liberated. How can she resist when her ambitious best friend Sabrina proposes an infallible business idea? How harmful can running as escort agency really be? Will she finally be freed by her increasing wealth and independence, or will she remain enslaved by her increasing guilt?

“[The Harem] offers unexpectedly sophisticated considerations of how gender, class, and race intersect as characters find both common ground and disparities in their unique positions.”
Canadian Literature

“The novel is unflinching in its documentation of the raw frustration of a life lived on the margins…The Harem is realism at its most honest and messy.”
Quill & Quire

“The question of what freedom is infuses the novel with an engaging gravitas.”
Maple Tree Literary Supplement


Publication Date: October 2012

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-894770-98-9
Page size: 5.5″ x 8.5″
168 pages

eBook ISBN: 978-1-927494-19-6

Safia Fazlul

Safia Fazlul, of Bangladeshi origin, lived in Oslo, Norway, before coming to Canada at the age of eleven. Her first novel, The Harem, was published soon after she completed her BA at the University of Toronto. Recently retired from the financial industry, Safia continues to write while enjoying her new motherhood. She lives in Toronto.