The Tent (Review)
reviews* / July 3, 2012

Title: The Tent Author: Miral al-Tahawy Translator: Anthony Calderbank Publication Year: 1998 (originally published in Arabic in 1996) Pages: 140 Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction Source: Borrowed from Amy while in Egypt From the cover: The Tent is a beautifully written, powerful, and disturbing novel, featuring a host of women characters whose lives are subject to the will of a single, often absent, patriarch and his brutal, foul-mouthed mother. Told through the eyes of a young girl, the lives of the Bedouin and peasant women unfold, revealing the tragedy of the sonless mother and the intolerable heaviness of existence. Set against trackless deserts and star-filled night skies, the story tells of the young girl’s relationship with her distant father and a foreign woman who is well-meaning but ultimately motivated by self-interest. It provides an intimate glimpse inside the women’s quarters, and chronicles their pastimes and preoccupations, their stories and their songs. This book was an interesting, and at times frustrating, read. The Tent tells the story of a family of women through the eyes of the youngest daughter in the household. The most interesting parts, for me, were those that talked about the cultural and familial obligations and relationships between the…

Beauty Queens (Review)
reviews* / May 28, 2012

Title: Beauty Queens Author/Narrator: Libba Bray Publication Year: 2011 Pages: 400 (audio length: 14 hours 37 minutes) Genre: Fiction Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com From the cover: The 50 contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner. What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program – or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan – or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up? Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. This is probably my favourite, and least expected, “great find” from the Armchair Audies. The description from the cover of Beauty Queens gives a vague idea of what it is about, and yet it misses so many important things. I put off reading this book until I had read almost all of the other books in the category, thinking that…

The Muslim Next Door: The Qur’an, the Media, and That Veil Thing (Review)
reviews* / September 24, 2011

Title: The Muslim Next Door: The Qur’an, the Media, and That Veil Thing Author: Sumbul Ali-Karamali Publication Year: 2008 Pages: 260 Genre: Non-Fiction Source: Review copy from the publisher From the cover: Since 9/11, stories about Muslims and the Islamic world have flooded headlines, politics, and water-cooler conversations all across the country. And, although Americans hear about Islam on a daily basis, there remains no clear explanation of Islam or its people. The Muslim Next Door offers easy-to-understand yet academically sound answers to these questions while also dispelling commonly held misconceptions. Written from the point of view of an American Muslim, the book addresses what readers in the Western world are most curious about, beginning with the basics of Islam and how Muslims practice their religion before easing into more complicated issues like jihad, Islamic fundamentalism, and the status of women in Islam. Author Sumbul Ali-Karamali’s vivid anecdotes about growing up Muslim and female in the West, along with her sensitive, scholarly overview of Islam, combine for a uniquely insightful look at the world’s fastest growing religion. This book was really good as a slightly-more-than-basic primer to Islam for non-Muslims. What I really enjoyed was the breadth of topics that…