I have been feeling a great degree of upset, anger and frustration over Trump’s racist Muslim ban preventing travellers from specific countries from entering the US as well as the biased, hypocritical way in which he selected the countries on the list. While I feel helpless in this regard, I do realise that reading is an inherently political act so I decided to compile a list of books by authors from these countries that I want to read over the next year or so. While one story cannot represent a whole country that is where I’m going to start and I can read more stories from each country in the future.
Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novel which is described by Goodreads as an entertaining and enlightening look at the sex lives of Iranian women. Not what I usually go for but I loved Satrapi’s Persepolis so I have a feeling I’ll enjoy this!
The Madman of Freedom Square by Hassan Blasim is a collection of short stories set during the Iran/ Iraq War and occupation and is described as ‘present[ing] an uncompromising view of the relationship between the West and Iraq, as well as a haunting critique of the postwar refugee experience.’ This seems like an incredibly important thing to read about right now.
Anubis: A Desert Novel by Ibrahim Al-Khoni is a novel following the people who live in the desert and how this harsh landscape has shaped their lives. Lybian Tuareg folklore about the Egyptian god Anubis is also weaved into the story. Al-Khoni is a well known Lybian author and I’m a sucker for anything to do with Ancient Egypt so I’m excited to buy this one after my book buying ban ends.
Sweet and Sour Milk by Nuruddin Farah chronicles one man’s search for the reasons behind his twin’s violent death in 1970s Somalia. Farah is a very prominent Somali novelist who has won multiple prizes for his works so his work should hopefully be a good starting point from which to jump into Somalia fiction.
Leila Aboulela’s Minaret follows a Sudanese woman who was privileged and secular in her homeland but who has now emigrated to London, is very poor and has decided to start embracing her religion and wearing a hijab. I’ve read very few books with hijabi protagonists so this was one I was happy to add to my to be read pile.
Damascus Nights by Rafik Schami is one I’ve had on my tbr pile for a while but there is interestingly enough a queue for the one copy of it in my city’s library system. It follows the story of the best story teller in Damascus who has mysteriously lost his voice so his friends come together at night and tell stories to him to break the spell. A story about story telling is one of the things that I will immediately add to my tbr so no wonder this one is on there.
Finally, there aren’t too many books by Yemeni authors published in English but thanks to A Year of Reading the World’s blog post I’m planning to pick up The Hostage by Zayd Mutee’ Dammaj. It is set in Yemen before the Immam’s revolution and follows a young boy who is taken hostage by the Immams in order to secure his father’s political obedience. Hopefully this will give me some context about the Yemeni political climate around the time when this was written which may help me to better understand the tensions between Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen which have lead up to this horrific proxy war that is taking place.
If you’re looking for more books by Muslim authors, check out #muslimshelfspace on twitter for recommendations. This is an area where my reading is sorely lacking so I want to work on improving this over the course of the year.
Anyway, do feel free to let me know if any of these books sound good to you or to give me recommendations for books by authors from the seven countries affected or Muslim authors from other countries. Until next time, take care of yourselves and look after those around you.
Featured Image Photo Credit: Peter DaSilva/EPA via the Telegraph.