A reportedly autobiographical novel by a North African Muslim woman, The Almond is something new in the erotica field: a work that is simultaneously a highly erotic read and a compelling, well-written narrative; hot and politically feminist; and most surprising of all, feminist, erotic, and from the Muslim world. In her belief that "Literature alone has the efficacy of a 'lethal weapon,'" the narrator Badra sets out to, in her own words, "give the power of speech back to the women of my blood, a power confiscated by their fathers, brothers, and husbands. In tribute to the ancient Arab civilization in which desire was shown, even in architecture where love was liberated from being sinful, in which both having and giving pleasure was one of the believer's duties." As the book opens, Badra flees her small town of Imchouk for Tangiers, where she locates her Uncle Slimane's ex-wife Selma, a sassy character something like Shug Avery from The Color Purple, who has always advised Badra to seek her own pleasure. Selma greets her, "Did someone die there?" and Badra answers, "I did." Then Badra settles in to tell Selma of her sexual history, from her first brutal arranged marriage to the lovers that followed and her recollection of childhood curiosity about sex, in interludes that are often bittersweet, always revelatory, and a sensual delight. Then Badra meets Driss, a charming, virile, rich doctor prone to debauchery, and her sexuality undergoes yet another significant evolution.