Devotion. Ambition. Expectations.
  • The Scope of Permissibility
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The Scope of Permissibility

Zeynab Gamieldien

How do you balance devotion, ambition and expectations?

A stunning debut novel that follows the intertwined lives of three friends as they navigate the complexities of university life, adherence to their faith, and the transition into adulthood.
Bound together by their shared beliefs and alienation from wider Australian society, Sara, Abida and Naeem are drawn to their university’s Muslim Students’ Association. Within its walls, Sara and Naeem begin a covert relationship, while Abida campaigns for the group’s presidency. But Abida’s ambitions for leadership threatens both her longstanding friendship with Sara and the increasingly fragile relationship between Sara and Naeem.
As tensions rise and loyalties falter, the three must balance the demands of love, faith and ambition, with each decision they make having the potential to change their lives forever.
Told through three distinct perspectives, The Scope of Permissibility is a poignant coming-of-age tale that captures the push and pull of expectation and autonomy.

About the Author

Zeynab Gamieldien is the inaugural winner of the 2022 Westwords–Ultimo Prize. Her work has been shortlisted for the Rachel Funari Prize for Fiction and featured in publications such as the Sydney Morning Herald’s Daily Life section and the Australian Muslim Times. The Scope of Permissibility is her first novel.



The Scope of Permissibility left me reeling in the betwixt and between of identity torn by contending cultures.’ – The Guardian


‘thrillingly fuelled by the friction between the protagonists’ desires and the social constraints that threaten them ... This earnest wanting, within a defined moral framework, is essential to Gamieldien's absorbing novel – and refreshing in its contrast to the ambivalent searching of so many contemporary coming-of-age novels.’ – The Age


‘Bold, tender and astute. Gamieldien writes flawed and complex characters with depth and compassion. A compelling and sharply-observed debut, brimming with tension, complexity and tenderness.’ – Sarah Ayoub, author of The Cult of Romance


‘Written with love and nuance, this is a relatable and beautifully crafted novel addressing the complexities of religion and belonging.’ – Amani Haydar, author of The Mother Wound


‘An incisive meditation on devotion, desire and double standards.’ – Sarah Malik, author of Desi Girl and Safar


‘A powerful exploration of the conflict between desire and religious beliefs, and love and familial duty, as well as an insider’s account of life as a member of a minority group in today’s Australia.’ – Sydney Morning Herald




Pub Date
July 2023




Love, Religion, Relationships