Stay, Daughter

Yasmin Azad

We did not stay in our houses. Not in the way our grandmothers had, or our mothers. We went out a little more and veiled ourselves a little less. Some of us longed for more learning and dreamed about leaving home to get it. The elders shook their heads and cautioned: too much education could ruin a girl’s future.


To be a Muslim girl in the Sri Lanka of the 50s and 60s was to have to stay inside once you hit puberty; where even a glimpse of flesh was forbidden; and where things were done the way they’d always been done.


But Yasmin Azad’s family is full of love, humour and larger-than-life characters, despite the strictures half of them were under. And almost despite himself, Yasmin’s father allows her an education – an education that would open the whole world to her, even as it risked closing her off from those she was closest to.


An extraordinary portrait of a time and a community in the midst of profound change, Stay, Daughter vividly evokes a now-vanished world, but its central clash – that of tradition and modernity – is one that will always be with us.


ISBN: 9781800751392

Published: April 6, 2023


ISBN: 9781800751408

Published: April 6, 2023


Reviews for Stay, Daughter

‘Open-hearted, often amusing, always vivid and, above all, fascinating’ – Francesca Kay

‘Yasmin Azad’s Stay, Daughter shows us the humour and heartbreak involved in the complexities and nuances of those born into a traditional world trying to negotiate modernity. It is a profound reflection on the dilemmas that Muslim women faced and are facing as orthodoxy and identity come up against freedom’ – Radhika Coomaraswamy

‘Easily the best piece of writing in English about Sri Lankan Muslims, Stay, Daughter is a must read’ – Qadri Ismail, Professor of English, University of Minnesota

‘The setting is beautifully drawn, and its history comes alive. The book introduces many facets of Muslim life … while showing just how radical seemingly small changes can be in a traditional environment. A loving and approachable coming-of-age story about generational change’ – Kirkus Review (starred review)

‘It is an outstanding example of how a memoir format can be used to promote cultural understanding with thought-provoking insights … it should be in every collection strong in Muslim community stories‘ – Midwest Review

‘An intriguing, surprising and endlessly fascinating glimpse into the lost and extraordinary lives of supposedly ordinary (and, to Western eyes, largely invisible) people’ – Robert Edric

‘A remarkable coming-of-age story. It also manages to be both a finely-drawn family portrait and an insightful account of seismic generational shifts’ – Malcolm Forbes, The National News


Yasmin Azad

Yasmin Azad was among the first group of girls in her Muslim community in Sri Lanka to go away to university. Soon after obtaining a degree in English from the University of Ceylon, she moved to the United States, where she worked for over two decades as a mental health counsellor.

Stay, Daughter draws on her experiences growing up in a close-knit, conservative society which, when it gave more independence to women, had to deal with the challenge of reconciling the rules of Islamic orthodoxy with the freedoms and innovations of the modern world.