Middle East/North African Lit discussion

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message 1: by Marieke, Former moderator (last edited Mar 02, 2016 06:51AM) (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
In some parts of the world March is Women's History Month so it seems like a good time to get this challenge underway. Please join the challenge and the discussions!

Here are some places for inspiration:
Year of Reading Arab Women

Arab Women Writers from Boston University Libraries

Of course we are not limited to Arab writers...we can read writing from the breadth of our geographical region, including the Asian countries that we decided to explore last year. Therefore, The Good Muslim might be a nice place to start!

This is more or less a free read activity, but pairing up with other readers will certainly be welcome!

Which books by women authors do you want to read?


message 2: by Niraj (new)

Niraj (njdreads) | 27 comments Still need to get round to Leila Aboulela, Nawal el Saadawi, Ahdaf Soueif...


message 3: by DubaiReader (new)

DubaiReader | 30 comments I would recommend Susan Abulhawa, her first book, Mornings in Jenin was excellent and I'm hoping to start her second book, The Blue Between Sky and Water, this week.


message 4: by Liz (new)

Liz | 1 comments Mornings in Jenin was spectacular.

I just now finished The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak which was very good as well. (It seems you are including Turkey in this challenge?)

I have The Girl Who Fell to Earth
by Sophia Al-Maria (Qatar) on my to read list as well as

Yummah
by Sarah A. Al Shafei (Bahrain)


message 5: by Jalilah (last edited Mar 02, 2016 04:31PM) (new)

Jalilah | 753 comments Marieke wrote: "In some parts of the world March is Women's History Month so it seems like a good time to get this challenge underway. Please join the challenge and the discussions!

Here are some places for insp..."


This is perfect because I am reading Tahmima Anam's The Good Muslim now!
I would highly recommend for everyone who read A Golden Age. last year to read the Good Muslim sooner than later. The Good Muslim most definitely takes the story up where A Golden Age left off, so it's good to still remember the characters and events.

I've also ordered The Kindness of Enemies by Leila Aboulela and plan to read it later on this month.

The only thing I am not clear about is is this challenge only for one month?
If it's just one month I won't be able to read more than those two books.


message 6: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
I set it to go until April 15, but if there is big interest in extending it, I can certainly do that! Those were the dates we had penciled in our moderator schedule when we were planning out the first part of the year. I could do a poll to gauge interest in extending it...


message 7: by Jalilah (new)

Jalilah | 753 comments Marieke wrote: "I set it to go until April 15, but if there is big interest in extending it, I can certainly do that! Those were the dates we had penciled in our moderator schedule when we were planning out the fi..."

I'm okay with what everyone else decides!
I've added one more book to my list, The Architect's Apprentice by Elif Shafak
I should be able to manage these three in a month.


message 8: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
i just got clarification from Nile Daughter! see, i am the least involved moderator and don't always grasp all the details, but i am trying!

I will run a poll tomorrow to see how long we want the challenge to last. the March 1-April 15 date range was intended to be a group read within the challenge. so i will work on a new time frame for doing a group read within the challenge; otherwise the challenge is a free read...does that make sense?


message 9: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 166 comments gosh, I'm really embarrassed that I don't seem to have any qualifying books to hand! What's going on?! I'm glad this challenge has come up to spur me...


message 10: by Martina Zuliani (new)

Martina Zuliani | 16 comments I always have problems with challenges as Slovenia is not the best place to find a lot of books, but I think I saw "The good Muslim" in a library, so will read it


message 11: by Anne (new)

Anne | 8 comments This website probably has the most exhaustive list of Arab women writers: http://arabwomenwriters.com/


message 12: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Liz wrote: "Mornings in Jenin was spectacular.

I just now finished The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak which was very good as well. (It seems you are including Turkey in this challenge?)

I have The Girl ..."


yes, Turkey definitely counts :)

other countries beyond the standard Middle East and North African countries are the so-called Stans, including Pakistan. we decided to explore them last year as a "Middle East Extended." We have one author from Bangladesh, because that country was once part of Pakistan. We read A Golden Age and there seemed to be a bit of interest in continuing with her work and reading the sequel, The Good Muslim.


message 13: by Randa (new)

Randa (randaaimour) I'm so excited for this challenge!
I hope it's extended though, I have many books by Arab women both at home and on my to-read shelf and I'm hoping to get through as many as possible!


message 14: by aj (new)

aj (muchlibrary) | 12 comments I would selfishly request that The Good Muslim be reserved for a later group read as I still need to read A Golden Age (which I intend to do soon!).

On my to-read list:
The Blue Between Sky and Water
any Hoda Barakat or Radwa Ashour
A Border Passage: From Cairo to America – A Woman's Journey

I'm excited to see what else is suggested!


message 15: by aj (new)

aj (muchlibrary) | 12 comments That said, I'm terrible at keeping up with group reads, but I will certainly participate in the wider challenge. Thanks for putting this together!


message 16: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
I'm so happy to see this interest and i hope that many of us are motivated to get to books we have let languish (I'm looking at you, Mornings in Jenin!).

i did set up two polls to help me tweak the organization of the project and sent out a broadcast message, but just in case anyone missed it, here are the links to the polls:

https://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/1...

https://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/1...

if the responses end up inconclusive, i'll try to reach some kind of solution that i hope will work for many of us.


message 17: by Ming (last edited Mar 03, 2016 06:11PM) (new)

Ming | 20 comments Marieke wrote: "...We read A Golden Age and there seemed to be a bit of interest in continuing with her work and reading the sequel, The Good Muslim...."

Her writing is so gorgeous. And fyi, Tahmima Anam had this piece about her father, editor of an English-language newspaper in Bangladesh and a freedom fighter; it was published today: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/04/opi...


message 18: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
I agree, Ming. A Golden Age was one of my favorite reads last year and I'm really looking forward to The Good Muslim.

Great catch on seeing this article and sharing it! I hope things turn out okay :/


message 19: by Jalilah (new)

Jalilah | 753 comments Marieke wrote: "I agree, Ming. A Golden Age was one of my favorite reads last year and I'm really looking forward to The Good Muslim.

Great catch on seeing this article and sharing it! I hope things turn out okay :/"


I just finished The Good Muslim and am looking forward to discussing it with everyone!


message 20: by Jalilah (new)

Jalilah | 753 comments Ming wrote: "Marieke wrote: "...We read A Golden Age and there seemed to be a bit of interest in continuing with her work and reading the sequel, The Good Muslim...."

Her writing is so gorgeous. And fyi, Tahmi..."


How horrible! I wish all the best for her father!


message 21: by Samy (last edited Mar 06, 2016 07:57AM) (new)

Samy | 25 comments I am starting by reading The Book of Fate The Book of Fate by Parinoush Saniee by Parinoush Saniee.

Here is the author site from her English-language agent:
http://www.thesusijnagency.com/Parino...


message 22: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
I plan to set up threads for authors each of you say you're reading or recommend.


message 23: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
a 3-month challenge was the clear winner from the polls, but whether to do a group read was not so clear. So i am going to open a thread for those who want to participate in a group read...let's make some suggestions this week and i'll set up a short poll on Friday.

so please do continue your free reading and don't feel pressured to participate in a group read if you are not interested in that activity!


message 24: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 166 comments You are doing great work on this Marieke xxx


message 25: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Zanna wrote: "You are doing great work on this Marieke xxx"

Thanks, Zanna! :D


message 26: by Jalilah (new)

Jalilah | 753 comments Marieke wrote: "a 3-month challenge was the clear winner from the polls, but whether to do a group read was not so clear. So i am going to open a thread for those who want to participate in a group read...let's ma..."

Thanks so much Marieke!


message 27: by Ming (new)

Ming | 20 comments Ming wrote: "Her writing is so gorgeous."

And she's a Man Booker International 2016 judge. http://themanbookerprize.com/news/man...


message 28: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
I have opened threads for each author mentioned so far. I hope to go back to edit the initial posts to have some biographical info and lists of works. Feel free to tell me more authors you hope to read and I will make threads for them too. We will have a nice resource here. :)

Also, i am going to set up a poll tomorrow for our group read, so if you want to do the group read and have suggestions, please put them here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...

Thanks!


message 29: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Samy wrote: "I am starting by reading The Book of Fate The Book of Fate by Parinoush Saniee by Parinoush Saniee.

Here is the author site from her English-language agent:
http://www.thesusijnagency.com/Parino..."


a totally new author to me!


message 30: by Samy (new)

Samy | 25 comments Thank you so much Marieke for setting everything up. You've put a lot of work into this and it is great and very appreciated.


message 31: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
the poll for our group read:
https://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/1...


message 32: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Samy wrote: "Thank you so much Marieke for setting everything up. You've put a lot of work into this and it is great and very appreciated."

aww Thanks!


message 33: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 166 comments I am planning to read Jasmine and Stars: Reading More Than Lolita in Tehran by Fatemeh Keshavarz because I had mixed feelings about Reading Lolita in Tehran. I'm also planning to read Iran Awakening by Shirin Ebadi. I have little idea of book is about but it's on the 500 Great Books By Women list, as is Two Women in One


message 34: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Jasmine and Stars pairs greatly with reading Lolita in Tehran. I didn't understand what it was I didn't like about Reading Lolita, but Jasmine and Stars helped me out with that.


message 35: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 166 comments Perfect! It was probably you who recommended the book to me, Marieke. I have a copy waiting for me at my mum's house - I'll pick it up when I visit this weekend and get around to reading it... some time soonish!


message 36: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
It is short and I think you'll eat it right up. It's another instance of me not getting any kind of review together...just a note saying I hoped to get my thoughts together, but apparently I never did!


message 37: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 166 comments haha yes you have a lot of those! the pull of the next read... I actually write my reviews in a spreadsheet and on GR I keep them in currently reading until I have reviewed (or decided not to review). If I didn't have some way of organising like this I'd never review anything


message 38: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
I have been doing off the cuff reviews...it's the most I can manage right now...and more than what I did for my first eight years or so here! Lol


message 39: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 166 comments yeah I'm really lucky to have the amount of free time I do, it still is not enough... My friends who have kids never do anything for their own entertainment haha


message 40: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Lol my lack of reviewing came before kids...but having a kid has damaged my memory significantly so I've made a point to at least get something written down to help me remember down the line what I did or didn't like about a book.


message 41: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 166 comments that is a good habit, my memory is not good, so I make notes when I can. My brother, who doesn't read, once asked me 'what's the point of reading if you don't remember it?' and I didn't have an answer, but I carried on reading

It's taken me this long to come up with one: when I read, while I read, I am living a whole other wild and beautiful level of life, and it always, always changes me. That is the point of it, so whether I review or remember anything is just icing on the cake.

But writing to any extent at all helps me to live it more intensely, to think about it more, to remember it and refer to it and link it to other things, any leave something I can refer to later!!!! (hallelujah for that!) so I am grateful when I have that time...


message 42: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Your brain absorbs so much and it will make itself known in surprising ways. Recall isn't always great, but I can live with that. I also take notes sometimes while reading, but it can be haphazard. i would like to develop a better way of doing it for myself that will compel me to be consistent. then i could write two reviews, ultimately: a first one that is essentially impressionistic, and a second one, that would be more thoughtful and measured. but...i am not sure i have the energy for that right now...perhaps that can be my reading resolution for next year!


message 43: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
btw, i set up a "Goals" thread for challenge participants:
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 44: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 166 comments That two review system sounds amazing = )

Thanks for setting up the goals thread, I am getting more and more absorbed in this challenge


message 45: by Marieke, Former moderator (new)

Marieke | 1179 comments Mod
Poll results are in! The Architect's Apprentice got the most votes so that will be the book we feature as our group read for the challenge. I will set the dates for mid-April until the end of the challenge to give everyone time to get the book and possibly read it before the thread opens, if that is your preferred style.


message 46: by Jalilah (new)

Jalilah | 753 comments Marieke wrote: "Poll results are in! The Architect's Apprentice got the most votes so that will be the book we feature as our group read for the challenge. I will set the dates for mid-April until ..."

Oh great! I did not even vote because I could not make up my mind. I want to read all of them!


message 47: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 166 comments Oh I wasn't expecting that... Planning to read The Bastard of Istanbul too. Is there any continuity, does anyone know?


message 48: by Jalilah (new)

Jalilah | 753 comments Zanna wrote: "Oh I wasn't expecting that... Planning to read The Bastard of Istanbul too. Is there any continuity, does anyone know?"

I don't think so. The Bastard of Istanbul takes place in modern times and The Architect's Apprentice in the 1500s.

Have you read Honor yet? Up to now it's my favourite although I've loved all the books I've read of hers.


message 49: by Niraj (new)

Niraj (njdreads) | 27 comments Would love to read some Elif Shafak too - I've only heard very good things about her and her books so far :D


message 50: by Zanna (new)

Zanna (zannastar) | 166 comments Haha thanks Jalilah, I should have done a modicum of research before asking a foolish question! I haven't read any of her books! I have ordered The Architect's Apprentice for the group read and The Bastard of Istanbul... No cheap copies of Honour around but I'll look out for it


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