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God in Pink

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A revelatory novel about being queer and Muslim, set in war-torn Iraq in 2003. Ramy is a young gay Iraqi struggling to find a balance between his sexuality, religion, and culture. Ammar is a sheikh whose guidance Ramy seeks, and whose tolerance is tested by his belief in the teachings of the Qur'an. Full of quiet moments of beauty and raw depictions of violence, God in Pink poignantly captures the anguish and the fortitude of Islamic life in Iraq.

Hasan Namir was born in Iraq in 1987. God in Pink is his first novel.

160 pages, Paperback

First published October 13, 2015

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Hasan Namir

5 books52 followers

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5 stars
127 (15%)
4 stars
248 (30%)
3 stars
285 (35%)
2 stars
121 (14%)
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32 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 151 reviews
Profile Image for Lark Benobi.
Author 1 book1,643 followers
May 24, 2020
In my life I've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with queer, trans, and other-oriented youth, many of whom have had a difficult time at home or in school. I think this book would be a marvelous read for them. It reads like a YA book, a book aimed at young people who don't feel comfortable reading Literature with a capital L. It deals in a straightforward way with the worst things that can happen when a young person comes out to a family whose religion defines being gay as being a sinner. In just the first chapter a young man is shot for being gay; another character kills himself for being gay. These things happen in real life and this novel gets straight to the point. The novel also has added appeal for these young readers because it is set in Baghdad, and would allow young readers to learn something about a different culture as well as the universality of gay oppression. I'd like to see it on the LGBTQ shelf in every YA section in every library, where young readers would appreciate it on many levels, and where it could do some good.
Profile Image for Anne.
Author 1 book15 followers
January 12, 2017
I am glad that there is a novel circulating in the queer community that intersects with Islam. It is important and needed particularly in light of Orlando.

However, the writing wasn't good. The storyline was choppy. The author bounced from a lover horrifically committing suicide in front of him, to him finding interest in someone else. It isn't realistic. If your partner shoots themselves in the head in front of you, I can't imagine not being traumatized and needing serious emotional help. When a friend is suddenly murdered in a club, I can't imagine moving on to the next subject. When someone beats the complete shit out of you, I can't imagine becoming their lover shortly there after. It read like the author was in a race to complete the story in the least amount of time possible. It was rushed and incomplete.

I liked the storyline itself and the concept, but the writing surrounding it felt like swiss cheese.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for LenaRibka.
1,412 reviews414 followers
June 4, 2018
28th Annual Lambda Literary Award Finalist - Gay Fiction

Homosexuality in Islam is a difficult topic. It HAS to be tragic, if the characters live in a strongly Muslim country. While reviewing such a book, it is difficult to separate myself from the political and religious matters and to focus only on the writing style and MCs.

Paragraph 175 (known formally as §175 StGB; also known as Section 175 in English) was a provision of the German Criminal Code from 15 May 1871 to 10 March 1994. It made homosexual acts between males a crime.

You got it? Comparing to Germany in 1994, Iraq of 2003 (and in the moment even worse) has yet a VERY long way to go. I am really sorry for all homosexual people who was born in a wrong country. But I am also sorry for all women who were born there. MCs name it traditions. I name it human rights abuses.

"After we were married, I told her that she could not eat at the same table as me. She said that when she was growing up, her family did not separate the men and women at meals, so it bothered her; I think it may still, but it is tradition passed down from my great-great-grandfather. We accept it for what it is. I cannot break with tradition."

"One time she wanted to go out with her sister without a man to accompany them to protection. I didn't allow it."

"Choosing a wife based on a photograph alone is ridiculous, but I keep my opinion to myself. I realize that this is our tradition."

"I realize that, after all these years, they are still in love. I wonder how this could be possible when they don't have any children. Aren't children what keep a husband and wife together?"

"A Muslim woman must not touch a man who is not her husband or a close relation."

The plot could be interesting if it were less cliche and less superficial. The MCs lacked the depth and credibility. The writing is simple, but not in a good way. I see how hard the author tried to make it poetic, but I didn't buy it.

All in all - I still can't believe that this book won Lammy in 2015 in the category Gay Fiction, when JD: A Novel was among the finalists.

Profile Image for Banu Yıldıran Genç.
Author 1 book589 followers
July 23, 2020
ırak’ta bir eşcinselin ailesi ve dini arasındaki bocalaması... ailesi ya da polis tarafından öldürülenler... ne kadar tanıdık.
hemen hepsi türkiye’ye kaçmak istiyor. tabii muhtemelen 2000’lerin başı. bugüne rağmen türkiye ırak’tan daha yaşanılası bir ülke eşcinseller için. şimdilik. yaşanılası? olması yine de memleketteki homofobiyi aklamıyor tabii.
sezdirilen baba tecavüzü ve şeyhin bir anda kimliğini bulması olmamış. kolaycılık olmuş. ama kuran’ı, nefretle sığınılan ayetleri, ikiyüzlü müslümanlığı sorgulaması açısından iyi bir roman. yazar da kaçmış kanada’ya kurtulmuş.
sub yayınları’nı bilmiyordum. beşir’in arada basshar olması gibi çeviri hataları var ama önemsiz.
keşke içinde homofobi taşıyanlar okusa da o çıkışsızlığı anlasalar da nerdeeee...
Profile Image for Book Riot Community.
953 reviews96.2k followers
March 8, 2016
I think I only read one book this month due to moving, so it’s probably a good thing that I enjoyed the book. God in Pink was a sometimes brutal but also sometimes sweet (or bittersweet, given the topic at hand) account of a young, gay Iraqi man who wants nothing less than to get married off to a woman–unfortunately, that’s what is slated to happen, since he can’t be openly gay. Heartbreaking. — Susie Rodarme

from The Best Books We Read In February: http://bookriot.com/2016/03/01/riot-r...
Profile Image for Karen.
989 reviews1 follower
January 11, 2016
This felt a bit like the outline of a book, but what was there was well done. It felt like all the development of the characters and their relationships could've been done more in-depth, with more scenes of everyone interacting so we could see changes happening. But with the spare scenes the author shows, he does a nice job showing the sheik's confusion and inner turmoil over being asked to help a gay man, Ramy's conflicts over whether or not to marry one of the women his brother picks, and the relationships between Ramy and his brother and sister-in-law. Also, the unusualness of the topic (gay men in Iraq) makes the story valuable and compensates for some of the shortcomings of the writing.
Profile Image for Doug.
1,897 reviews647 followers
March 18, 2016
An intriguing and insightful book about the plight of gays in Iraq, with both political and religious prejudice wrecking havoc in their lives. The story was interesting and heartfelt, but I wasn't crazy about the magic realism elements, and the thin book felt like it could/should have been developed a bit more...but really more of a 3.5 rating.
771 reviews123 followers
June 15, 2016
A solidly written book. And it has an innovative and unique story. Two narrators, a closeted gay man and a religious leader, alternately depict their separate but soon intertwining stories.

I did not think the book was particularly exceptional in terms of its writing style or storycrafting. Ramy's torment over being gay was plausible but at key points, his reactions felt flat or stymied.

I also thought that Ramy's pushing against some of the anti-homosexual passages in the Qur'an could have been better developed and at least included more questioning (even self-questioning). And I didn't like the resolution of Ramy's story.

In particular, I found several of the tropes tiresome; they disappointed me. I am especially tired of books where the gay partner or lover is killed.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for metempsicoso.
230 reviews172 followers
May 19, 2022
Vincitore nella categoria Gay Fiction dei Lambda Literary Awards (2015): cioè, questa robaccia ha superato ben altri sette candidati? Davvero non ho fantasia a sufficienza per immaginarmi cosa mai possano essere questi sconfitti.
Perché, per me, God in Pink è nelle sue pagine più belle uno scheletrino abortito che avrebbe avuto bisogno ancora di anni di maturazione nella testa del suo autore. Nelle peggiori, un paio di occhi alzati al cielo nell'invocazione di un fulmine che mi trapassi il cervello.
È acerbo in tutto: nello stile, con dialoghi così cringe da lasciare una smorfia pure a me che l'ho letto in una lingua di cui non colgo tutte le sottigliezze; nella caratterizzazione dei personaggi, per lo più piatti, non pervenuti o in preda ad un improvviso attacco psicotico; nell'ambientazione, interessante e ricca di grande potenziale ma sempre troppo poco approfondita; negli escamotage letterari, sfruttati per buttare lì mezza descrizione esplicita, durante svisionate sotto allucinogeni non motivate; nella trama, un climax continuamente interrotto da svolte rocambolesche e poco credibili con cui si vorrebbe far soffrire il lettore memore di altri esempi famosi della letteratura queer.
Peccato che la pochezza di questo volume - sia da un punto di vista qualitativo che quantitativo - non permetta di aver alcun legame empatico con i protagonisti.
Vorrebbe essere un tentativo di rappresentare le difficoltà d'un giovane uomo gay nell'Iraq diviso dalla guerra? Mah. Credo abbia vinto solo per le due mezze frasi con cui il protagonista celebra la libertà degli americani. Per me, evitabile.
Ha poi due momenti splatter a "la Tarantino" per cui si può solo ridacchiare, invece di soffrire per la gravità degli eventi verificatisi. Del tipo: se insisti ancora un po', Namir, la testa me la faccio saltare per aria pure io.
Profile Image for Joshua.
Author 1 book23 followers
March 3, 2017
This is a beautiful addition to my year of Queer reading for 2017. The God in Pink is the story of Ramy, w young homosexual in Iraq in 2003. It's so heartbreaking to know that so much of the world is still so deeply homophobic (my country included.) The prose in the story is spare and powerful and tells a story about love and coming out and acceptance in a religious society.
Profile Image for JayBird.
49 reviews
January 11, 2016
New Hope

A beautiful book that sparks in the darkness, shedding a little bit of light to the unknown. I really hope change happens in those parts of the world where these topics are forbidden.
Profile Image for Trisha.
3 reviews1 follower
December 15, 2015
It had the potential to be so much more than it was. A good story though. Glad I read it.
Profile Image for Marvin.
1 review
April 1, 2016
What is it like to be Muslim and queer in a country like Iraq where homosexuality does not even officially exist? What do you do as a young man when you feel you are attracted to other people of the same sex, yet your religion condemns such feelings? For Ramy this is everyday reality. Well enough he has witnessed the bloodcurdling consequences of other gay men coming out. Caught in perpetual struggle between his own sexuality and the expectations set upon him by his brother and society he beseeches the local imam for help but only receives incomprehension and rejection. Ramy does not know, however, that he is about to unravel the imam's sexual orientation as well. The situation comes to a head when Ramy falls in love with another young man while his brother wants him to marry a women as soon as possible.

The novel is written in plan, flat English and constantly switches between the perspectives of Ramy and the imam, demonstrating the aggravation of the situation for both of them.

I can definitely recommend the novel. Not only does it address a delicate topic but it is also a wake up call for the Arab world to change. I can certainly see parallels to Parvez Sharma's documentary films A Sinner in Mecca and A Jihad for Love where he portrays his own struggle to reconcile his open homosexuality with his faith.
Profile Image for Jess.
121 reviews6 followers
July 1, 2016
The longer I sit with this book, the more it's sinking in. I knew that I loved it when I finished, but the more I think about it, the more important a work it feels.

It's not a long book, but there's a lot to take in. There are so many themes that are well-explored, but without extraneous text. Religion and homosexuality are obvious themes, but more universally it tackles shame, vulnerability, misplaced trust, and the feeling of being an outsider. Despite being a culture with which I am not intimately familiar (and to which a great deal of my exposure is through the eyes of journalists), Namir made his protagonist's struggle so personal and relate-able. At the risk of sounding self-centered, it made this struggle feel more accessible.

This book is significant and timely. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to read it.
Profile Image for Matthew White Ellis.
198 reviews4 followers
December 7, 2015
I appreciate the author for taking on such a difficult subject matter... However, I can't appreciate the writing.

The writing tells more than shows. There's no room left for interpretation. I didn't need to be told when there was sarcasm, I could already hear it in the voice in my head. I didn't need to be told that Rammy was crying out in fear and frustration, that was already demonstrated in his swearing.

Other than that, I felt that the characters lacked dimension. They ran flat across the page.

The violence of being queer in Iraq could have been handled so much better than it was here. I was really expecting so much more from the writing, but was unfortunately let down.
Profile Image for Benjamin Farr.
424 reviews21 followers
October 19, 2016
An important and necessary novel about the often muted topic of homosexuality in Islam.

With the right editing this book *could* have been exceptional, however the story was far too short and as a result the plot never truly developed. Although the story was littered with climatic moments, these events were never explored or written about in length (often only half a page at most). I would have loved for the author to develop the characters further, and to build on the plot, but alas this story left me wanting for more.
Profile Image for hal .
769 reviews110 followers
July 1, 2020
I know. I’m disappointed too. I wanted to read this because the topics seemed so important to me. The experiences of queer people of color, queer folks living in countries besides the United States, and the intersection of queerness and Islam, all are really meaningful important topics!!

But this just did not do those subjects justice. This, to be blunt, was horribly written. The plot was rushed and sloppy, and confusing too. The characters felt absolutely lifeless and I couldn’t connect to them at all.

I found some aspects to be downright problematic. One, there is a ton of sexism and misogyny that is never addressed or called out by the narrative. I don't expect the author be like "sexism is bad" every page but at least some basic/subtle acknowledgement that the treatment of women in this culture is disgusting and abusive would be nice?
Another big issue,

In general, the plotting contained a lot of events like this, in which heavy and traumatizing events happen but then are quickly brushed aside. There was no real inciting incident or chain of events that felt like a linear plot, it just felt like one (traumatizing and awful) thing happening after the other with no connection to each other.

The characters weren't all that interesting, I think the imam Ammar could have been a really well done character because he had a lot of promise conceptually but it just didn't play out like that. Also his transition from being homophobic to embracing queerness was a total 180 that felt completely abrupt. Ramy was not particularly likable either. Honestly, all the men in this book (and that's most of the characters) were to some degree annoying or unlikable, the only really sympathetic characters were Noor and Shams, but barely any attention is paid to them.

Harsh criticisms aside, I recognize that this is a debut novel so I'm not opposed to reading any future work by Hasan Namir. In fact, I would look forward to it! War/Torn is already on my tbr. But for God in Pink, I have to say I did not enjoy this one at all and would recommend skipping.
Profile Image for Kate.
451 reviews1 follower
June 2, 2021
This is the story of Ramy, a closeted young gay man coming of age in Iraq in the early 2000s. Knowing that he is gay despite his older brother's desire to marry him off, Ramy writes to the sheikh of his community in Baghdad for guidance. Initially, the sheikh refuses to help him, but things change as he must confront some uncomfortable truths about himself.
Trigger warnings for war.
No question this short book packs a punch. I am not crazy about the "homophobic person is actually gay" trope, but this is still worth reading, offering a unique perspective on what it means to be both queer and Muslim. A confident and assured first novel.
Profile Image for Mathis Bailey.
Author 3 books74 followers
November 16, 2017
The main character had the worst luck with men and relationships. Almost to the point that it seemed unbelievable. But I still found the story engaging and fast pace. It reminded me of the queer movie Touch of Pink. The parallelism is the supernatural ghosts taunting the main characters' sexuality. A very quick read about homophobia and religion set in the rural Middle East. A startling debut novel.
2 reviews
September 10, 2016
This book deserves every one of these five stars. It is probably the most wonderful novel I read from a living author.

The main characters of this book are the gay student Ramy and the sheikh Ammar, who supresses his transsexuality.
The perspective changes a lot between these two persons. Sometimes the reader doesn't understand easily, who's perspective is used at the moment.
Here you can notice one main topic of this novel: identety crisis.
Am I reading about a young man, who has sex with other men or am i reading about a religious husband and loving father, who supresses his transsexuality?
This symbolises the inner conflict of the two protagonists: should they hide or live out their sexuality?
In the novel there are sex scenes right next to islamic quotes, stressing this inner conflict.
This is the situation at the beginning of the book. The protagonists develop a lot.

All the charackters in the book develop a lot.
They all have a deep personality. You can realate to them.
Two examples:
Mohammed- Ramys brother- wants Ramy to get married because Mohammed can't get children with his wife but promised his dead father grandchildren.
Amar is extremely neurotic and strict on himself - because he got beaten by his father.
This book explains, why people act in a ways considered bad. People seem rather to be victims then offenders.

The language is fantastic! I'm not a native speaker but i still understood the book. The language doesn't try to be extraordinary. It rather tries to not stick out and brings focus to the story and the symbolic of the novel.

The best thing about this book was the ending. The novel had one of the best endings i've ever read in a romantic book (and i read a lot of romances reaching from Anna Karenina to Romeo and Juliet).

The fact that Ramy experienced so much suffer as a homosexual that he marries a girl is -personally- far more touching then any lovesuicede. The scene of the wedding night was made beautifully.
After that the reader sees Ammar fleeing in a fantasyworld were he can live his transsexual feelings. After a talk with Ramy, who's expecting a child at the moment, he understands that he can't live as a transsexual, since he takes responsibility for his son and his wife, which can only be fulfilled when Ammar falls back in his role of a sheikh and loving husband.
This ending sounds of course really sad but at the very last part of the book there is a description of paradise.
Ramy and Ammar have to hide their heart and need to suffer in the world for the sake of society.
But maybe- if Islam is really the true religion- Ammir can finally cope with his true feelings in heaven.
Maybe-if Islam is true- Ramy could be able to see all his gay friends again. Ali, Sammy, Bashar and Khaled, who all got oppressed or/and tortured or/and brutally murdered by society.
All the characters would live in a better society. In a utopia, where there is " pleasure and great dominion ".
This is such a beautiful ending and it reminds me of Layla and Madschnun by Nizami.

Personally I can fully relate to the character Ramy. I am a gay, 17 years old muslim living in Germany. I know it's not the same as Iraq but i feel stressed upon by my far older siblings and my family as well. Only a cousin of mine ( except from some people on the internet) knows I'm gay and I read this book secretly. Sorry if i became to personal but i just want to thank the author.
His novel helped me so much to cope with my own feelings.
I hope it's not the last work the author will publish.

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Rosamund Taylor.
Author 1 book113 followers
August 3, 2018
The subject matter of this book is compelling: I have never read a book about the experience of being a gay man in Iraq, and their stories need to be told. Unfortunately, Namir's prose style doesn't live up to the weightiness of his subjects: Ramy's life is full of traumatic events and abuse, but Namir never gave himself space to really write about the impact of those events on Ramy's psyche. I often felt like I was reading notes for what should be a much longer piece, because everything happens so rapidly, and for me to truly engage with the impact of what happens, I needed the aftermath of what happens to be given much more time and development. The book alternates between the perspectives of Ramy, a young gay man, and Ammar, a sheikh whose guidance Ramy seeks. The two men are full of internal strife and desperately struggling to understand themselves in a place that is hostile to them. The magic realism and struggle with God coupled with the dilemmas of being gay are really interesting ideas, but I desperately wanted Namir to spend more time in each scene and develop the emotions and atmosphere of this story. I really hope he writes another book, because this novel has urgency and power, and could be so much more than it is.
Profile Image for Mustafa Bilal.
204 reviews
October 27, 2017
The book is short, easy and plain. It took me two hours with an average speed of 284 w/m to finish it. Despite that, the book is not engaging at all. I would compare it here with Guapa by Saleem Haddad which deals with some of the same themes and it was very engaging and exploratory. This book was too much on the surface. It was rush and didn't wait for the reader to feel anything.

The second thing was that it offended my religious sensibilities. The task of experimenting with sensitive issues like religious figures is to be given to the hands of the one experienced in the craft of writing (which is very vague since it has no definite standards), but the point is that you have to make a good case and the case here is too weak. It feels as if the religion is being mocked at.

The book required a lot of work and effort. It felt unfinished. It read like an outline or a draft. It could have been something much better, since the story had a lot of potential in it. Despite all this, I should also remark that I had been searching for this book since long and the expectations were high. Maybe if it weren't for expectations, the world would be more accepting.
Profile Image for Adam.
376 reviews2 followers
December 12, 2018
3.5 stars.

Very clearly a debut novel, God in Pink has some amazing moments, but suffers from some pacing and structural issues that I'm hopeful Namir will adjust to as he writes more. Because his viewpoint is one that is needed, and I truly hope to read more from him in the future.

Islamic LGBT voices are some of the most quieted in the world, and even in imperfect novels, it's so important to hear what they have to say.
Profile Image for George Ilsley.
Author 13 books210 followers
February 1, 2020
An unusual tale of a young closeted gay man living in Iraq. The writing is very flat; however this serves to make the more shocking and brutal events bearable. The text is also suffused with spiritual examination, an attempt to bypass the interpretation of texts and go directly to the source. And what is the source? That is an important question, whatever one's religion happens to be.
Profile Image for Sassafras Lowrey.
Author 26 books173 followers
June 14, 2016
Powerful and heartbreaking. Probably not the week I should have chosen to read this book, but I'm grateful for having read it. God in Pink is an important addition to queer literature and the kinds of conversations it is inspiring about identity, expression and belonging. I'm so glad it won a Lammy!
Profile Image for Karin.
1,130 reviews27 followers
February 25, 2016
This was my #readharder2016 Middle East pick, about a young Muslim man who is gay, and what a struggle it is to be gay in 2000s Iraq. It's very sad, and also reflective about how religious teachings can be interpreted. I recommend it.
2 reviews4 followers
November 18, 2015
This book is perfect for everyone! It gives the reader a glimpse into the grim reality of being queer in Iraq.
Profile Image for Ezra.
73 reviews6 followers
May 30, 2016
a story of a muslim queer, because such a thing does exist.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 151 reviews

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