We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

The complexities of modern Arab womanhood reveal themselves with depth and solidity in Kathryn K. Abdul-Baki’s novel Tower of Dreams (Three Continents Press, Box 38009, Colorado Springs, CO 80907-8009). A D.C. native of mixed American and Arab descent, Abdul-Baki lives between two cultures, and so do her protagonists, Isabel and Laila. Caroming from one heroine’s perspective to another, Tower takes its women through nearly 40 years of life and change. In a story told as a reminiscence following the Gulf War, the characters grow from girls into adults, their paths meandering in the way of many women who expected to wear the chador as adults but instead found themselves in business suits or sundresses. Abdul-Baki, who lives in McLean, Va., writes not only of divergence between Middle Eastern and Western culture, but of the often discordant gaps between expectation and reality experienced by modern Arab women.