I can definitely tell that this book was written to shock people. The copy that I picked up in Beirut actually turns out to be a bit censored, and when I looked up what had been taken out online, it was often (but not always) something completely gratuitous and offensive.
This is the first book I’ve ever read that combines both the modern world and the world of the djinn. Books about supernatural beings have been popular for who knows how long, but I’ve never come across one that takes Islamic folklore as its basis. You know, aside from the movie of Aladdin. And I’ve read another of Wilson’s books, The Butterfly Mosque, but it’s non-fiction … so I knew that I liked her writing, but I wasn’t sure if I’d want to read a novel. Sometimes people don’t cross over very well, yanno?
Despite the fact that I’ve been living in an Arab country for almost two years now, there are still many aspects of Arab culture that I’m not exposed to in the UAE. Partly, this is because locals are so outnumbered by expat non-Arabs, but this is also simply because we see or hear a lot of things but don’t always understand them.
A few years ago, during my first year of teaching, Mariatu Kamara came to speak at my school. For some reason that I don’t remember (maybe I was teaching that period?) I didn’t get to attend the talk. Having finally read her book, I wish that had gone differently.
I wanted to love this book more than I did. I swear. It has all kinds of promise for exposing the prejudices inherent in the conflict in Israel/Palestine, between Arabs and Jews in the region, and while it definitely covered those topics, I don’t feel like the book as a whole was very reader-friendly.