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Aaliyah Bilal’s debut short story collection, a finalist for a 2023 National Book Award, offers a vivid and nuanced portrait of the Black Muslim experience. Across 10 stories, she introduces characters, often women, who are reconsidering or rediscovering their faith. In “Candy For Hanif,” a mother of a boy with special needs wonders why she has not been rewarded for her righteousness. In “Who’s Down,” a father’s mission to eat a cheeseburger after an all too brief affair with vegetarianism leads his daughter to have her own crisis of faith. In “Janazah,” a funeral for a teacher with a complicated legacy leads a former student to question the effects of leaving the Nation of Islam. Temple Folk is Bilal’s love letter to her community. —Shannon Carlin

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