Heart Tantrums and Brain Tumours

A Tale of Misogyny, Marriage and Muslim Feminism

August 2023 9781787388932 456pp
EU Customers


When Aisha Sarwari moved to America as a young woman, she set out to create her own identity and story. Born in Uganda, she had never lived in South Asia, yet struggled to reconcile the cultural expectation to be a ‘good Muslim girl’ with her desire for equality and acceptance.

After she met Yasser, a Pakistani law student, they returned to their ancestral country and married. Little did they know that a brain tumour would become a near-lethal third wheel in their relationship. The cancer gnawed at Yasser’s personality, provoking aggressive outbursts. Was the illness still the explanation for his violence, or had it become an excuse? Aisha began to see their marriage within a bigger picture—of an oppressive society, and of the tug between feminist principles and personal happiness.

Between Africa, America and Pakistan, Heart Tantrums and Brain Tumours is a unique story of identity and belonging, misogyny and motherhood, patriarchy and partnership. Its searing honesty and political passion reveal one woman’s battle to redefine the rules—by fighting for, and sometimes with, the man she loves.


‘A searing account of one woman’s journey in Pakistan through career, marriage, abuse and her husband’s life-shattering cancer.’ — The Guardian, ‘50 Brilliant Holiday Reads 2023’

‘The book tackles deeply ingrained societal norms and familial expectations that have, for far too long, silenced women’s voices in the South Asian community.’ — The News on Sunday

‘In complicating everything we know and feel about the ‘Pakistani woman stereotype’… Sarwari breaks down the monolith of women’s identity in Pakistan.’ — Dawn

‘A ferocious, piercing, and powerful narration of a Pakistani woman’s struggle with misogyny, abuse, identity, and patriarchy … a captivating memoir … a magnificently well-told story … a necessary work of art calling out the frailty of human psychology.’ — Glamsham

‘A powerful, intelligent, raw and disturbing book.’ — Mohsin Hamid, author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Exit West

‘Genuinely moving. Exceptional.’ — Moni Mohsin, author of The Diary of a Social Butterfly and Tender Hooks

‘A beautifully written, moving story. The power of words hasn’t been better evoked!’ — Shashi Tharoor, Indian MP and author of Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India

‘A brilliant book. Tragic, painful and yet so inspiring.’ — Nadeem Farooq Paracha, journalist, historian and author of Soul Rivals and Points of Entry


Aisha Sarwari is a public speaker, women's rights activist, co-founder of the NGO Women's Advancement Hub, and author of two books on feminism. Her commentary has appeared in The Economist, The Guardian and The Express Tribune; on NPR and the BBC World Service. Based in Islamabad, she tweets as @AishaFSarwari.

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