Ya LeilaDonia Saleh
The humour in Queenie meets the style of Jonas Hassen Khemiri in this unapologetically political, disarmingly honest, and heart-rendingly identifyable story about loyalty and love, and what happens when you step out of the box that someone else has designed for you.
Leila and Amila are inseparable, in deep symbiosis that at times makes them feel immortal, but at others can feel like a claustrophobic nightmare. While Leila is quieter, shyer and has an easier time fitting in at school, Amila lives life out loud, not caring what her teachers or other students think about her. Together, they form an alliance against the vegan artsy boys; the school’s popular girls named ’the Glitter Pussies’ after pseudofeminist glitter paintings of vaginas and, worst of all, the traitors, like Yones, who tries his hardest to ignore his cultural background. When there are two of you against the world, who needs other people, right?
Their relationship is shaken when Leila is seduced by the cute vegan Leo, which brings into the fore-front her everlasting dreams of fitting in with the middle class around her. Perhaps she might even give the Glitter Pussies a chance? Is she turning her back on her background, or just trying to assimilate?
YA LEILA is a novel about loyalty that can equally lift you and confine you, about inherited generational trauma and the intense love between two friends. Nominated for both the Catapult Award and Borås Debut Prize for Best Debut 2020, YA LEILA is written in a darkly funny, fast-paced style and we are treated to a new and refreshing voice in Swedish fiction.
’YA LEILA is a melancholic novel with a satire edge, a glittering black
diamont—all in all, a brilliant debut.’
’I love it. It’s written with timing, humour, precision as well as frivolity, intuition, distilled observation and solid compassion. Another word is