Diagram of the Heart: Muslim Romance in Kano
There’s a small but vibrant cottage industry of Muslim women writing romance novels, littattafan soyayya, in Northern Nigeria, a region best known for the acts of terrorist group Boko Haram. The writers face off with Islamic censors, and they sell their books in some of the same markets targeted by Boko Haram suicide bombers.
The books are about love and marriage. Some are subversive and speak out against human trafficking and child marriage, while others are submissive, advising women on how best to please their husbands, offering fantasies of escape, and tales of the poor girl marrying the rich man.
Guided by the themes of these novels, “Diagram of the Heart” explores romance, tradition, love and loss in the lives of women in Northern Nigeria.
DIAGRAM OF THE HEART was released on February 2016 by Red Hook Editions. It was selected as a photobook of the year by the New York Times Magazine, Pictures of the Year International (POYi), and PDN's Photo Annual.
The work was included in “Moving Walls 23: Journeys,” as well as at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) in Brooklyn, New York, and in several other shows.