Saturday, November 3, 2007

On the Book I'm Halfway Through...

I have a bad habit of falling in love with a book while reading it and posting about it, when I'm about halfway through. Today is no different. So, if you've read this book and finished, please don't tell me the ending.

Right now, I'm reading Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and it is pretty amazing. The book describes her childhood and adolescence in pre-war Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya. She is Somali by birth and she never seems to fit in, among her clan relatives in Somalia, her Christian neighbors in Kenya nor the strict Islamic community in Saudi Arabia. As a young woman, she struggles with her allegiance to Islam, because she tries to be a devout Muslim but cannot reconcile her faith with its treatment of women.

This book is very scary, at parts, but also very touching because she balances the difficulty of her upbringing with a sense of fierce independence. I would strongly urge you to pick up this book and read it, if you're at all interested in learning more about a woman's experience battling fundamentalism and discrimination.


...deb said...

I read this earlier in the year. So glad you picked it up and are enjoying it. My husband and I saw her on several shows when it forst came out. (No spoilers from me.)

Paul said...

This book should be a warning signal for all of us infidels. It makes one think about a serious subject!

Jessica said...

Hi ...deb,

I'd heard about this book a lot before I started it, and I wouldn't have started it unless there was a book club at work. There's just so many books out there to read, and this barely hit my radar. But I am *so* glad that I picked it up.

Paul -- it is a very scary book to read, specifically because she demonstrates how the fundamentalists are secure in the belief that we are infidels. There's no question.

...deb said...

As much as I was moved by this book I would suggest you (we) read other books about the culture of Islam. Partly to temper Ali's voice.

No. Temper is not quite right. I don't want to water down or offset what she is saying. Nor do I believe in balance (at the least the way Fox news describes it.) I suppose I mean to say that the clear illustration, her revealing view of Islam ought to be respected and acknowledged. But we should also read other experiences.

Currently I am reading Three Cups of Tea (for a bookclub--I recommend it) and recently finished A Thousand Splendid Suns (fiction, true, but an authentic voice--if you haven't read The Kite Runner, Hosseini's first novel, then read that. First.)

I hadn't meant to pick a reading theme for myself. But there is one.

Awareness is the first step to communication. It's better than bombs and carnage.

Sorry (kind of) for the soapbox. :-)

Jessica said...

I totally agree.

I think the one thing about this book is that it is very much embedded in her perspective. She had a very difficult life, which I believe influenced the way she thought about her religion and her culture. While reading, you cannot get away from that perspective. This is not to discount anything she says in her book or anything she went through as a person, but she presents a very singular vision of Somali/Muslim life.

Thank you for your suggestions for other books about Islam. In the times we live in, I think its really important to get a well-rounded view of this religion.

Is there room up there on your soapbox to share?