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Points of View
The drama of conflict, chaos, and war come to Western readers in daily newspaper stories, but the news gives us scant details about how people live their lives in Islamabad, Fez, Cairo, or Tehran. Through the titles in “Points of View,” readers will encounter individual experiences in Muslim-majority societies through memoirs and novels representing a diverse geography and some of the best contemporary storytelling.
Developed by Deborah Amos, international correspondent, National Public Radio
In the Country of Men by
Call Number: PR6113.A87 I515 2007
Publication Date: 2008-02-26
“The truth couldn’t be kept away, it was cunning, sly-natured, seeping through at its own indifferent pace.” In Hisham Matar’s debut novel, a Libyan boy must come to terms with difficult truths about Libya, loyalty, and truth when his father disappears. On the surface a story of the violence and absurdity of life during the rule of Muammar al-Qaddafi, In the Country of Men describes the politics of childhood more than the politics of nations. Just as the plot brilliantly unfolds in unpredictable ways, we are catapulted forward to the next decade. We are left to reflect on the ties that bind us all—the universal embarrassments and frustrations of childhood, the challenge of constructing meaning from memory, and the presence of unavoidable truths.
Call Number: PN6747.S245 P4713 2003
Publication Date: 2003-04-29
Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's inventive, wry, and tragic memoir of growing up in Tehran in the 1980s—the tumultuous years when the Islamic Revolution took hold in Iran and the country fought off an invasion from neighboring Iraq. Using a striking black-and-white comic strip format, Satrapi chronicles daily life from the perspective of a middle-class schoolchild, as well as cataclysmic events such as the overthrow of the shah and the long, bloody war with Iraq. Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the personal costs of war and repression, convincingly related by a perceptive girl caught up in the raging currents of history who also has time to listen to Michael Jackson and dream of a better life. In the aftermath of the Arab Spring of 2011, Persepolis feels even more timely, insightful, and essential.
House of Stone by
Call Number: HQ663.9 .S53 2012
Publication Date: 2012-02-28
From the late New York Times journalist Anthony Shadid comes a chronicle of his quixotic efforts to restore his family’s ancestral home in Lebanon. While House of Stone is a memorable tale of the ups and downs of house renovation, it is also a thoughtful meditation on the profound changes the Middle East has undergone in recent centuries. Shadid uses the history of his Christian family in Lebanon, the rise and decline of the Ottoman Empire, and accounts of life in Lebanon today to illustrate the diversity and difficulties of the region. Deeply personal, beautifully written, and intensively researched, House of Stone paints an unforgettable portrait of the people of Lebanon, their history, and their daily lives.
Broken Verses by
Call Number: PR9540.9.S485 B76 2005
Publication Date: 2005-06-01
Pakistan was created as an independent nation in 1947, carved from predominantly Muslim regions in the east and west of India after British colonial rule ended on the Indian subcontinent. Ever since, Pakistan has struggled to be Islamic yet secular, and to create a sense of nationhood in a population of great cultural, ethnic, and economic diversity. In Broken Verses, Kamila Shamsie beautifully captures the promise of Pakistan and the country’s divisive political reality. Told through the eyes of a young television journalist working in the flourishing seaport of Karachi, the novel traces one family’s incredible experience of Pakistan from the 1970s to the present. Part mystery, part romance, and part coming-of-age tale, Broken Verses combines a compelling story with a larger meditation on the meaning of poetry, politics, religion, and Pakistan itself.
Dreams of Trespass by
Call Number: CT2678.M47 A3 1995
Publication Date: 1995-09-04
Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood takes place in Fez, Morocco, in the 1940s and early 1950s. The harem of this memoir’s title is a large house with its own courtyard, shared by several generations of an extended family. Fatima Mernissi recounts her experiences and observations as a precocious young girl living in the harem, acutely aware of the many sacred frontiers she is forbidden to cross—the barriers between men and women and between Muslims and Christians, the threshold separating one room from another or the interior of the house from the street outside. She learns that all the women around her chafe at the limitations of harem life in one way or another, but she also comes to realize that she can transcend these limitations covertly—through imagination, creativity, learning, and even mischief.