logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Africa
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-06-12 05:11
Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Infidel - Ayaan Hirsi Ali

This is a fascinating memoir from an impressive author. Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia; just a generation before, her family were nomadic herders. She spent her early years in Somalia before her father’s political involvement forced the family to flee; she and her siblings spent their teenage years in Kenya, where the author briefly joined the Muslim Brotherhood while her mother longed for the “pure” Islam of Saudi Arabia. Her family was troubled to say the least, though she doesn’t quite seem to blame either of her parents. As the region became even less stable in the early 90s, her father decided to save her by arranging her an unwanted marriage, at age 22, to a Somali man in Canada seeking a traditional Somali wife. But the author managed to escape and claim asylum in Holland, where she worked, educated herself and went to college for political science. Her intellectual awakening distanced her from Islam, and she eventually became a member of Parliament, promoting rights for Muslim women and a greater integration of immigrants into Dutch society. Proving her point, this outspokenness provoked a violent response.

As a piece of literature, this is quite good. The author writes well; it’s a compelling story and written with the sort of physical and emotional detail that promotes a high level of engagement from the reader. At times it’s downright dramatic. Although the author is political, it never reads like a public relations piece; she’s no angel here, and there are no clear villains. She does portray herself as a victim rather often, but this rarely seems related to any political agenda; her mother is sometimes abusive, but the council of elders convened to determine the legitimacy of her leaving her husband respects her decision. There are some tough scenes in this book – the author and her sister undergo female genital mutilation early on, for instance – but life goes on and people can’t simply suffer all the time; my concern that the book would read as a catalogue of atrocity turned out to be unfounded. The author has a strong viewpoint, yes, but people are complicated and this book shows that, rather than attempting to reduce all of life to a political agenda. You could read this as fiction and come away satisfied.

Nevertheless, the author is a political figure, accounting for much of the polarized reaction to this book; I think much of the negativity comes from information outside its pages, and a brief perusal of her Twitter feed explains why. At the time period covered in this book – when the author is a student and a young politician – she’s wrestling with big questions and fighting for reforms that could make life better for Muslim immigrants in Holland: for instance, by ending funding for religious schools, as Muslim schools tend to focus on memorization and obedience rather than real learning. And she’s frustrated by the way Dutch values of toleration can prevent a response to abuse among Muslim immigrants. She calls for reform in Islam, so that people can question its tenets without being subject to violence.

But the threats she receives (not to mention the brutal murder of a filmmaker with whom she makes a short piece questioning Islam’s demands for submission) and the reluctance of non-Muslims to believe how bad things can get seem to push her toward hatred of Islam as a whole. We see a little of that in the book: her efforts to convince the public of social problems among Muslim immigrants sometimes seem more geared toward proving that Islam is a problem than finding practical solutions. Her public statements now seem even more slanted in that direction (though she is working in the U.S. to increase penalties for FGM, for instance). I respect her strength and dedication, and generally agree with her critiques of the Muslim world. But promoting divisiveness is a terrible idea, and I’m concerned that may be the primary effect of her advocacy. This isn’t a criticism of the book, necessarily; if anything, it shows how honestly the author comes by her opinions.

In summary, then: this is an excellent story, well worth reading. It is not, for the most part, a political book, and I don’t judge it Islamophobic, defining Islamophobia as prejudice toward individual Muslims or a crusade against Islam while knowing little about it. It made me think, and that’s a strength in any book.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-05-19 13:32
Podcast #46 is up!
Njinga of Angola: Africa’s Warrior Queen - Linda M. Heywood

My forty-sixth podcast is up on the New Books Network website! In it I interview Linda Heywood about her new biography of Ninjinga of Ndongo and Matamba, one of the badass women rulers of the early modern world. Enjoy!

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-05-14 00:03
Shadow by Marcia Brown
Shadow - Blaise Cendrars,Marcia Brown

Genre:  Fantasy / Africa ./ Folktale / Horror


Year Published: 1982

 

Year Read:  2010

 

Publisher:   Charles Scribner's Sons

 

 

Shadow

“Shadow” is a Caldecott Medal award winning book by Marcia Brown and it is about what shadows do around people and what they do when they are not looking. “Shadow” may be a bit scary for smaller children, but it is truly a mesmerizing book that children would enjoy for many years.

Marcia Brown has wonderfully given a vivid description of what shadows do and what they are like and put the description of shadows in a poetic format and Marcia Brown does a great job at making shadows seem so mysterious as they constantly follow people around in ghostly figures. Marcia Brown’s illustrations are truly eerie yet creative as the people in the book are drawn as black shadows while the shadows themselves are drawn as white ghostly figures following the shadowed characters, however, there are some shadows that are dark figures such as the shadow coming out of the ash from the fire. The images perfectly blend color and black and white to bring out a more effective look at the world of shadows such as putting shadowed figures against colorful mountainsides or forests.

Shadow

Parents should know that there are some scary images in this book which involves images of the shadows taking frightening shapes such as one shadow wearing a very frightening mask and another large shadow that has ash for eyes and is walking on four wobbly legs. Many small children would also be frighten about the idea that shadows can come to life when they least expect it and it might cause many small children to not go to sleep at night because they might be afraid of their shadows coming to life to get them. Parents need to explain to their children that shadows do not come alive and they are apart of people.

“Shadow” is a brilliant book that takes on the views of the mysterious world of shadows and it will have many children mesmerized for many years. I would recommend this book to children ages six and up since the images are truly frightening and smaller children might be frightened at the idea that shadows come to life in this book.


Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

Banner

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-04-29 04:27
THE BAD-ASS LIBRARIANS OF TIMBUKTU by Joshua Hammer
The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts - Joshua Hammer

The title is a little misleading. While this does deal with the collection of the ancient manuscripts hidden in and around Timbuktu and through Mali, it deals more with the cultural and social history of Timbuktu as well as current events.

The story of the manuscripts is interesting--how they were gotten, preserved, hidden from the jihadists, removed from Timbuktu, and saved. The cultural history of the area and the manuscripts was more interesting. I learned a lot. The current history of the area was extremely interesting. This book opened my eyes to so much. This is only a drop of what I don't know. It makes me want to read more about African history, colonialism in Africa, the French Foreign Legion, whatever more whets my appetite to learn.
 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2017-04-22 18:53
Review: With Every Letter (Wings of the Nightingale #1) by Sarah Sundin
With Every Letter - Sarah Sundin

This book.

 

*SIGH*

 

*great book noise*

 

Where has this author been all my adult reading life?

 

I ended up creating a draft copy of my end of the year best of list for fiction. It has one book on that list. This book.

 

So I picked this book up from Amazon's bargain/close out section and then it gathered dust on my book shelves for years. I am now kicking myself for not reading this (and the other two books in the trilogy, but I don't have a copy of those yet) sooner.

 

Lt Philomela Blake (Mellie) is an Army nurse working on the experimental Air Evacuation section of the Army-Air Corps. She wants adventure, she wants travel, and she wants to move up in her career. Mellie is a damn fine nurse, and a fine person - but she is lonely because she never could make friends, especially female friends due to her childhood. Mellie is half-Filipino and half-white; she was too Asian for American school kids to like and too American for Asian kids to like. She has been instructed to learn to make friends and get along with the other women in her squadron or she will be removed from the Air Evacuation team and sent back to hospital work. She decides that part of this new "make friends and influence people" plan is to write anonymous letters to a male pen pal in her supervisor's husband's platoon.

 

Lt Tom MacGilliver is the son of an executed killer who just wants to be accepted for himself and be the best engineer the Army needs. He is working with the Airfield Battalion, hopping from location to location to lay down airfields for the Allies in North Africa. He too is lonely, so he answers Mellie's letter, staying anonymous. She goes by "Annie" and he goes by "Ernest".

 

Tom and Mellie form a deep bond through letters, even when Mellie's unit deploys to North Africa. They do meet, neither of them knowing that the other is the pen pal. At the end of the first meeting, Tom gives away a little of his identity and Mellie figures out Tom is her pen pal. She keeps this knowledge to herself, hoping to keep letter writing going. Both are falling in love with each other via letters, but Tom is also starting to fall for Mellie when she comes to his airfields to pick up wounded soldiers. He is very conflicted about his feelings for the "two" women throughout the second half of the book, but in the end he decides on "Annie" over Mellie, because "Annie" knows him deep down while Mellie he is physically attracted to. When he finally (FINALLY!!) figures out that they are actually the same woman, he mows down anyone in his way of him getting his woman.

 

This romance tackles racism, ethnic tensions, sexism, and how to deal with long hair when in the combat theater and you are rationed water supplies. Honestly, the deft hand when dealing with these issues plus the emotional baggage Mellie and Tom bring to their relationship is amazing. The story is rounded out with a variety of characters, some good - some bad - some ugly. But all the characters felt real. And the setting was aptly described; the reader is taken on a tour of North Africa including Casablanca, Oran, Tunis, Algiers, Youks-les-Bains, Constantine, Tabarka, and a few places in Sicily. This is an inspie romance, non-denominational Christianity. However, the religious aspects are really well-woven into the story, with no lecturing or long monologues or selfish praying. 

 

Tom adopts a stray dog early in the book. The dog is still alive at the end of the book and still working and living with Tom's unit.

 

I am definitely making it a point to read the other two books in the series and read the author's backlist (she tends to write in trilogies, all WWII). HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!

 

 

 

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?