Title: The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing
Author: Darina Al-Joundi (with Mohamed Kacimi)
Translator: Marjolijn de Jager
Publication Year: 2011
Source: Review copy from the publisher
From the cover:
Raised on Charles Baudelaire, A Clockwork Orange, and fine Bordeaux in 1970s Lebanon, Darina Al-Joundi was encouraged by her unconventional father to defy all taboos. As the bombs fell, she lived an adolescence of excess and transgression, defying death in nightclubs. The more oppressive the country became, the more drugs and anonymous sex she had, fueling the resentment by day of the same men who would spend the night with her. As the war dies down, she begins to incur the consequences of her lifestyle. On his deathbed, her father’s last wish is for his favorite song, “Sinnerman” by Nina Simone, to be played at his funeral instead of the traditional suras of the Koran. When she does just that, the results are catastrophic.
In this dramatic true story, Darina Al-Joundi is defiantly passionate about living her life as a liberated woman, even if it means leaving everyone and everything behind.
I hadn’t even heard of this book until the publisher offered it to me as part of the response to an email I sent out asking for review copies. The description really pulled me in, though, and I thought that Al-Joundi’s story sounded incredibly interesting.
And, in a general sense, it was. The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing is a very intense personal narrative written from the perspective of someone who really doesn’t fit in with the cultural and religious norms of her society. I can’t say that I always felt a connection to the author, or that I even really always enjoyed or respected the choices that she made throughout the story, but it was interesting nonetheless. The book is loosely chronological, and so it was especially interesting to see the way that Al-Joundi seemed to descend more and more into social isolation as her actions made her more and more of an outcast.
For me, it was especially interesting to read about a non-conformist and culturally “deviant” woman within the context of a society that can be so rigid. That’s probably what you’ll find most interesting in The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing – the story of a woman trying to be herself even when it makes everyone around her angry.
You can find other posts in the series by clicking on the image to the right, or by taking a look at the schedule of posts and reviews.