Mar 292024

Esquire: The latest work from the astonishingly prolific Mohamed (who has three books out this year alone) is a visceral yet intimate story about violence, nationalism, and war. Injured, captured, and tortured by his own side in an endless conflict, the famous pacifist Alefret is sent on a mission to infiltrate an enemy city. With him is Qhudur, a fanatic who will do anything for victory. Mohamed’s bio-technical setting is vivid and unusual—trained medical wasps, floating cities, and lightspiders dot these pages—but the heart of her story is Alefret’s moral struggle. Would killing Qhudur, an act of violence, lead to peace? When does violence become a habit that a country cannot break? How can a person hold tight to their ideals even amid suffering? How can stories and myths help sustain us? But The Siege of Burning Grass isn’t just a thoughtful consideration of war and pacifism; it’s also a feat of worldbuilding, moral complexity, and taut, precisely paced storytelling. After this, I’m ready to hunt down everything else Mohamed has ever written.