By Janelle Yahne
On November 21, (today!) from 7:00 – 9:00 pm, the library is presenting a reading and talk by Saladin Ahmed, “Writing Muslim American Fantasy.” The event is open to the public and is free. Parking is available at the Bostwick (Main) Ramp. Ahmed is an amazing fiction author and poet from Detroit whose writing has been nominated for the Hugo and Nebula awards. In honor of this exciting evening, each week until the event we will be showcasing a theme from Muslim Journeys Bookshelf as we move closer to this special event at the library.
From Muslim Journeys Bookshelf: Points of View
Developed by Deborah Amos, international correspondent, National Public Radio.
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.
Understanding and examining Islamic culture through memoirs and fictional works can bring a new awareness of our shared values and difficulties, as well as our shared successes. Islam as a religion often fits into these stories’ plots in the way that a local church community might play a role in an American work of fiction.
The novel is a relatively recent addition to the literary tradition of the Arab and Islamic worlds. Poetry, an ancient art, is much more revered—as are other modes of storytelling, some of which we explore in “Literary Reflections.” Still, the novel produced the first Muslim winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, 1988 honoree Nagib Mafouz of Egypt, and in more recent decades a legion of writers producing imaginative works that are accessible and illuminating, and that have become familiar to readers worldwide.
“Cairo writes, Beirut publishes, Baghdad reads” is an old Arabic saying that reflects an earlier literary culture before it was threatened by fundamentalism and all but extinguished by repressive governments. Recently, courageous writers have been exercising atrophied literary muscles again by taking on taboo topics of oppression, corruption, inequality, and women’s rights in a creative variety of narrative formats.