On February 20 we will be discussing A Girl Made of Dust by Natalie Abi-Ezzi. This novel is set during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the early 1980s, and based on the author's personal experiences of the conflict.
While living in Herat, Afghanistan during two separate years in the mid-seventies, British author Veronica Doubleday befriends three women from different hereditary classes. Through her developing relationships, readers will gain an understanding of what it meant to be a woman in Afghanistan before the Soviet invasion adn the rule of the Taliban. Doubleday's ability to speak Persian, as well as willingness to embrace their culture and traditions, give her access to Herati family life rarely seen by westerners. This is a beautifully written account of the lives of Afghani women and provides layers of insight for a country so frequently misunderstood today. Anyone seeking impartial information about a culture rich in traditions and arts will find Three Women of Herat invaluable in providing a framework for understanding women in Afghanistan.
Blending cultures, religions, and time periods, In A Strange Land: History in a Guise of a Traveler's Tale defies definition. An earlier work by popular Indian author Amitav Ghosh, he writes in his own voice using the time he spent as a student in Egypt to inform his tale. The story centers on his search for clues about a slave to a Jewish merchant mentioned in a 12th century letter discovered in the Cairo Geniza. Originally from Tunisia, the merchant travels to India, by way of Egypt, and lives there for a couple decades before mysteriously and suddenly returning to Africa. Through Ghosh's quest, you also learn about contemporary rural Egypt at the same time as you do about merchants and trade between Europe, Africa and India in the 12th century. It will leave you wondering where reality ends and the story begins.
Reading Blood river: a journey to Africa's broken heart is a tense and thrilling adventure that will leave you with a better understanding of this forgotten country in central Africa. Author Tim Butcher strives to recreate explorer Henry Morton Stanley's nineteenth century route along the Congo River from Lake Tanganyika to the Atlantic Ocean which cuts through two-thirds of the African continent. Along the journey you discover how the Congo is the only place in the world where technological advancements go backwards and grandparents can tell their grandchildren about inventions they can't even dream of. The Congo has so many resources and a people desperate for peace yet so many obstacles stacked against their success. You also learn about the efforts of the United Nations and other aid organizations and why so little is being done to help the people faced with massive institutionalized corruption. Butcher's book shines a spotlight on a country the world seems to have given up on and a people just hoping for a fair chance.