Books

Orientalism’s Children: “Voices from the Threshold”

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By Angele Ellis

Nearly 11 years ago, an automobile accident on a dusty Jordanian road cut Susan Atefat-Peckham’s life and work short. The Iranian American poet, memoirist and Full bright Scholar now takes her rightful place among the likes of Gregorgy Orfalea and Sharif Elmusa with her “Talking Through the Door.” The anthology transports readers to various eras and exotic locales, going back to Ibn Hazm’s 10th-century Cordoba, the Lebanon of World War I, pre-revolutionary Iran as well as 1950s and 60s Ohio. “Readers will find that these works carry with them a power and promise so life-affirming that Lisa Suhair Majaj describes them as ‘sustenance.’”

Talking Through the Door: An Anthology of Contemporary Middle Eastern American Writing
Edited by Susan Atefat-Peckham
With a Foreword by Lisa SuheirMajaj
Syracuse University Press, 2014, pp.  244

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The Ripple Effect of the 'Eclipse' of Iraqi Sunnis

By Lynne Rogers

Only four years after its publication and a drastically changed landscape, reading Deborah Amos’ “Eclipse of the Sunnis, Power, Exile and Upheaval in the Middle East,” will give readers a chilling sense of futility towards the impending signs of violence that politicians either conveniently overlooked or malevolently exaggerated to their advantage.   With the American Occupation of Iraq, Amos, an award winning journalist, has set off to record the “the mass departure” of Iraqis to Damascus, Amman and Beirut.

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The Only Diner in the Restaurant: A Travel Writer’s Perspective on the Arab Spring

By Daniel Hugh-Jones

Several excellent articles and books have been written concerning the revolutions of the Arab Spring, most by participants, relatives of the fallen, political analysts or foreign correspondents. Tom Chesshyre makes no claim to any of these perspectives. Instead, he deals with the subject of life during and after revolution with the light touch and charm of a travel writer.

When the first violent images of the Arab Spring flashed across our television screens, most of us watched with interest, wished the demonstrators more or less success in their efforts, depending on our points of view, and then got on with our lives. Tom Chesshyre, on the other hand, decided to take a look from up close, travelling through Tunisia, Libya and Egypt in the wake of revolt. This might come as no surprise – he is a journalist for the Times of London after all – but Chesshyre is not that sort of journalist. He is not a foreign correspondent.

Evelyn Shakir: Memoirs of an Arab-American Writer, Teacher, and Humanist

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By Lynne Rogers

 The World lost a great writer, teacher, scholar, and humanist when Arab-American Evelyn Shakir finally succumbed to breast cancer in 2010. Fortunately, Shakir bequeathed a rich literary legacy to her students, family, and admirers, one that reached its pinnacle with the publication of her final book, "Teaching Arabs, Writing Self, Memoirs of an Arab-American Woman," which is reviewed by Lynne Rogers for Al Jadid. The work documents her experiences growing up as a Lebanese American, as well as her adventures teaching abroad in Lebanon, Bahrain, and Damascus. Interesting characters, observations, and experiences, all related in her gentle, humorous, and often ironic style, make this book one readers will not want to miss. Shakir avoids the pitfalls of being overly didactic through the simple but profound expediency of revealing the social history and politics of each particular moment through a wealth of human interaction.

Teaching Arabs, Writing Self, Memoirs of an Arab-American Woman
By Evelyn Shakir
Olive Branch Press. 2014. 170 pp.  

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Living with voices: magical realism in war-torn Iran

By Lynne Rogers

This riveting story will hold the reader spellbound as Ravanipur employs magical realism to illuminate the searing realities of life in war-torn Iran. Afsaneh Sarboland can remember little about her reasons for fleeing her home and husband in the middle of the night, and must deal with the unjust assumptions and indictments of Iranian patriarchy. Driven to the point of madness by abuse and the devastating Iran-Iraq War, the embattled woman must also come to terms with her personal demons, who have taken on internal lives and personalities of their own. In a world gone mad, Ravanipur skillfully leads her readers to the startling conclusion that Afsaneh’s internal dialogs represent a peculiar form of sanity, appropriate to the realities of her family and country. 

Afsaneh, A Novel From Iran
By Moniru Ravanipur
Translated from the Persian by Rebecca Joubin
Ibex Publishers, 2014, pp. 211

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