Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (Review)
reviews* / November 27, 2014

Title: Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid Author/Narrator: Jimmy Carter Publication Year: 2006 Pages: 288 (audio length: 5 hours 2 minutes) Genre: Fiction Source: Audiobook version purchased from From the cover: President Carter, who was able to negotiate peace between Israel and Egypt, has remained deeply involved in Middle East affairs since leaving the White House. He has stayed in touch with the major players from all sides in the conflict and has made numerous trips to the Holy Land, most recently as an observer of the Palestinian elections in 2005 and 2006. In this book, President Carter shares his intimate knowledge of the history of the Middle East and his personal experiences with the principal actors, and he addresses sensitive political issues many American officials avoid. Pulling no punches, Carter prescribes steps that must be taken for the two states to share the Holy Land without a system of apartheid or the constant fear of terrorism. The general parameters of a long-term, two-state agreement are well known, the president writes. There will be no substantive and permanent peace for any peoples in this troubled region as long as Israel is violating key U.N. resolutions, official American policy, and the international…

The Taqwacores (Review)
reviews* / July 31, 2013

Title: The Taqwacores Author: Michael Muhammad Knight Publication Year: 2004 Pages: 254 Genre: Fiction Source: Purchased from a bookstore in Beirut From the cover: Yusef is living in Buffalo, New York with a group of Muslim punks. A pot-smoking mohawked Sufi called Jehangir plays the rooftop call to prayer on his electric guitar, while debates rage downstairs about the Quranic sources for Iggy Pop songs. With a living-room serving as a mosque by day and hosting punk parties by night, and a hole in the wall marking the direction of Mecca, Yusef’s friends are all dealing with what it means to be young and Muslim in modern-day America. Amidst all this, Yusef embarks on a fascinating, clumsy journey towards faith and love in this surprising and unsettling read. 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. Having said that, the offensive nature of so much that goes on in this book is what makes The Taqwacores so interesting of…

A Hologram for the King (Review)
reviews* / July 29, 2013

Title: A Hologram for the King Author: Dave Eggers Publication Year: 2012 Pages: 352 Genre: Fiction Source: Purchased from the Virgin Megastore in Dubai Mall From the cover: In a rising Saudi Arabian city, far from the weary, recession-scarred America, a struggling businessman pursues a last-ditch attempt to stave off foreclosure, pay his daughter’s college tuition and finally do something great. In A Hologram for the King, Dave Eggers, takes us around the world to show how one man fights to hold himself and his splintering family together in the face of the global economy’s gale-force winds. This taut, richly-layered and elegiac novel is a powerful evocation of our contemporary moment – and a moving story of how we got here. This an altogether more personal story set in Saudi Arabia than any other I’ve read. And while it regularly touches on the social and religious issues of the country, the strength of A Hologram for the King is really in the depth of the main character and the way that he struggles with his demons. This novel is a touching look at one man’s misery and attempt to escape it. You can feel the visceral anguish in the character of Alan,…

Alif the Unseen (Review)
reviews* / July 12, 2013

Title: Alif the Unseen Author: G. Willow Wilson Publication Year: 2012 Pages: 448 Genre: Fiction Source: Purchased from Kinokuniya From the cover: He calls himself Ali – few people know his real name – a young man born in a Middle Eastern city that straddles the ancient and modern worlds. When Alif meets the aristocratic Intisar, he believes he has found love. But their relationship has no future – Intisar is promised to another man and her family’s honour must be satisfied. As a remembrance, Intisar sends the heartbroken Alif a mysterious book. Entitled The Thousand and One Days, Alif discovers that this parting gift is a door to another world – a world from a very different time, when old magic was in the ascendant and the djinn walked among us. With the book in his hands, Alif finds himself drawing attention – far too much attention – from both men and djinn. Thus begins an adventure that takes him through the crumbling streets of a once-beautiful city, to uncover the long-forgotten mysteries of The Unseen. Alif is about to become a fugitive in both the corporeal and incorporeal worlds. And he is about to unleash a destructive power that…

Ramadan Reading (2013)
events / July 10, 2013

During the month of Ramadan (July 10 – August 8), I am going to be posting daily reviews of books that deal with Islam, as well as other discussion posts related to the topics that come out of these books. I will be writing about both fiction and non-fiction books, and from a variety of sources and perspectives. This page is a tentative schedule of posts and reviews for Ramadan 2013. I’ll be updating this list as the month goes along, linking to posts as they go live and updating the plan if books or discussions are added, subtracted, or moved around in the schedule. Friday, July 12, 2013 Review – Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson Monday, July 15th, 2013 Review – The Crisis of Zionism by Peter Beinart Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 Review – A Cup of Friendship by Deborah Rodriguez Monday, July 29th, 2013 Review – A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers Wednesday, July 31st, 2013 Review – The Taqwacores by Michael Muhammad Knight Friday, August 2nd, 2013 Review – The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie