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

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.  

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. 


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