So, so good. The history, the relationships, everything was well written and fascinating. Also extremely moving. I learned so much about Ethiopia and...moreSo, so good. The history, the relationships, everything was well written and fascinating. Also extremely moving. I learned so much about Ethiopia and it was an interesting insight into Islam as well.
The description of council flats was easy for me - I can picture all of that. That was part of my landscape when I lived in Edinburgh, which was also at the time having a immigrant/refuge issue (in that many Scots wanted the ability to finally be Scottish with their new parliament, but at the same time Scotland was getting an increasing number of refuges that had previously stayed more in England or at least in big cities and that was all changing.)
The friendship between Lilly and Amina made total sense to me. While being an expat isn't the same as being a refuge by far, the idea of a fast, tight friendship coming out of almost nowhere and happening really fast, based on only a few similarities, is totally my experience with expat friendships in a place where people cycle in and out in a year or two.
I thought the relationship between Lilly and Aziz made a lot of sense. It wasn't just that Aziz was her first lover, but also that she broke so many of her own religious rules to make the space in her life/mind for Aziz. To me that's the part that was really huge and to have lost him so immediately after, to have that possible guilt over having tainted him with her connection with Selassie, I can totally see why she held on to that love.
I liked learning about this particular brand of Islam with its saints. It was interesting to compare that with what I know of Christianity taking in local customs and meshing with them. I also loved the insight on how the various Muslim refuges all praying together was moving things away from traditions and cultures and to a more fundamentalist view.
I really liked Lilly as a character. I liked how distant and ghost-like she felt. I liked her interactions with those around her as she sought her place in a series of worlds that were never quite her own. I liked how she slowly grew to think of how she felt about her parents and the lifestyle she had with them - how Islam influenced her thoughts about them and how her opinions softened as she got older and realized how complex and difficult the world can be.
Also, I really hope that farenji is where the Star Trek Ferengi came from.(less)
With a few university evolutionary archaeology courses under my belt and an interest in cultures of the world that's led to a fair amount of anthropol...moreWith a few university evolutionary archaeology courses under my belt and an interest in cultures of the world that's led to a fair amount of anthropological reading, the first two chapters of this, while good, felt like a review of things I already knew. After that it got a bit more interesting as it covered ground I was unfamiliar or at least less familiar with. There were a few points that had me seeing things in a new way - like the suggestion that paleolithic cave art could be a nostalgia for the days before humans split off from animals into something new.(less)
I am totally the right person to read Infidel, I suppose - an atheist with a real hard-on for travelling and life in other cultures.
When people talk...moreI am totally the right person to read Infidel, I suppose - an atheist with a real hard-on for travelling and life in other cultures.
When people talk about all the white male atheists being the only spokespeople, they need to direct people over here. Her path from Islam to non-belief is fascinating.
I found her take on Islam interesting, because it doesn't at all jibe with what I saw (at a distance, granted) in Malaysia and Indonesia at all. I wandered around in my low-cut tank tops and had not a single problem. So I don't think it's all of Islam, but since I'm pretty open to the idea that religion in general is bunk and leads to silliness, it works for me.
We'll start this off by saying that the author gave me a free copy of this book for a review. That my ratings are unaffected by this is shown by the f...moreWe'll start this off by saying that the author gave me a free copy of this book for a review. That my ratings are unaffected by this is shown by the fact that the only other free book I've been given to review I gave 2 stars to. The Hangman's Replacement deserves every last one of those stars, as far as I'm concerned. The plot is fun and funny and fascinating in the manner in which a group of seemingly unconnected people turn out to be stuck in the very same web of intrigue. The book started off strong, with some of the funniest, driest humour I've read in some time and as each layer of complication was added, I got more excited. I can't wait to read the next book.
Plants that seek out dead bodies, a hangman with a determination gene, angry spirits, a "perfect" gallows, a maple syrup heist - it's a bizarre set of things that turn up in this novel, but they all come together well. (less)
Moving, if not really telling me anything I don't know. The Canadian connection was interesting. It made me want to go out and do something useful, or...moreMoving, if not really telling me anything I don't know. The Canadian connection was interesting. It made me want to go out and do something useful, or at the very least move to Africa.(less)
The low ranking doesn't entirely feel fair, but then, this wasn't a three star read for me, not entirely. Partially I just wasn't expecting such an ac...moreThe low ranking doesn't entirely feel fair, but then, this wasn't a three star read for me, not entirely. Partially I just wasn't expecting such an academic work - I thought it would be more of a narrative nonfiction read. So, the constant references to various thinkers sort of bored me. In general, I found a lot of it a wee bit boring. The section on the history of Uganda was rather on the confusing side and I thought that a lot of the parts about Acholi culture were a bit repetitive.
Where the book really shone was in the two stories of the CI (Child-Inducted) soldiers. They were really interesting. But they didn't feel entirely complete - at the end Oloya talks about how to reintegrate people who are both victims and perpetrators of the LRA, but neither of the stories at all discusses the way in which they were perpetrators. It felt rather one sided.(less)
I suppose what really got me was watching a young girl in an extremely male dominated world try to work her way through...moreHoly fuck, this blew my mind.
I suppose what really got me was watching a young girl in an extremely male dominated world try to work her way through it to succeed in spite of a lot of adversity. And to watch each of the women around her try to do so too. What I really liked about the novel gets hit on in the author interview at the end, that there are no monsters in this book, each character does get to explain and be understood.
The author interview also mentions that Dangarembga finds race hard to write about. I hope she succeeds though because what was touched on in Nervous Conditions was interesting and I'd love to read more.