The End of Literature Lynx

The End of Literature Lynx

Hi all.

I have officially decided to discontinue this blog.

I’ve been debating this decision for months. I realized that LiteratureLynx is not serving me in the way I had hoped, so I’m going to take my own advice, and walk away.

For anyone who has ever read my writing, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate you more than I can say.

I’m off to pursue a different path in my life, but I hope that you’ll continue to look for books that expand your world view. I know I will.

I’m not sure exactly what day this website will be taken down, but I believe it will be Sept 7.

Thank you all again, and best wishes.

Happy reading.

Mini Book Review: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Mini Book Review: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

“I believe that an entire nation should not be judged by the wrongdoings of a few extremists.” (Satrapi, introduction)

The links below will take you to Amazon.com. Disclosure: LiteratureLynx is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This adds no additional cost to you.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Cover blurb (from Amazon): “In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family.

Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.”

***

I think I’m in the minority when I say that this book didn’t do much for me. It was fine. I’m not sorry I read it but I don’t quite understand the hype.

On the positive side, it does an excellent job of showing everyday life in the midst of cultural change. Too often we see revolutions reported by statistics and political analysis but what about the human experience? What is it like to be an average person, when your country is in turmoil? Persepolis dives directly into that issue. Satrapi brings you into her home, and into her family. From this perspective, it is much easier to understand individual choices.

The narration through the eyes of a child is really interesting. Kids see things in black and white. It’s easy to see, then, how you can twist the flow of information. Satrapi’s parents are liberal, but she is not immune to the influences of her teachers and friends. It’s also easy to see how you can convince young people to take action. When you create an extreme split between good and evil, it becomes easy to target the “bad guys.” In Persepolis, we see this from the military recruiters and the “Guardians of the Revolution.”

This desire to create an obvious enemy is universal. No matter where you live, I think it’s important to understand how easy it is to turn people against one another. Arbitrary differences can get blown out of proportion, and become an issue of life or death. For those of us in the “west,” the media is quick to demonize entire countries. The world isn’t that simple. A dictator does not represent the everyday people. Religious extremist don’t represent the religion as a whole.

Having said that, this graphic novel was’t my favorite. The separated sections made it feel a bit choppy. I think the intention is to show quick vignettes over time. Persepolis takes place over 8 years so Satrapi jumps to the most important experiences. For me, it felt disjointed. That could also be due to a loss in translation. I think the core message of this book is excellent, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the presentation.

If you’re unfamiliar with the history of Iran, and want a more humanized explanation, you should read Persepolis. I’d also recommend the Iran episode of Parts Unknown. In any case, I think it’s worth asking yourself “what do I really know about this part of the world?” If you’ve only gotten information from the news, I strongly encourage you to look a little deeper. Do your own research. Read. Learn. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to remind yourself that those people on the other side of the world are still just people. People with flaws. People with hopes. They love, fear and live just like anyone else.

I’ll get off my soapbox now.

 

Middle Eastern Authors- The Fiction Edition

Middle Eastern Authors- The Fiction Edition

Creating this list has been a bit of a challenge. Not because I couldn’t find anything, but because there are so many books I want to talk about.

I’ve also been struggling with my presentation. It’s important to me that the information I provide is accurate and inoffensive. In particular, I believe that language matters. I know that the phrase ‘The Middle East’ is, itself, controversial (here’s a quick rundown of why). The inclusion or omission of specific countries in this post is not intended as a political statement.

I’m also aware that many people think ‘Arab’, ‘Muslim’ and ‘Middle Eastern’ are synonyms. They definitely aren’t (this Quora thread sums it up nicely). As of right now, though, I can’t come up with a better list title. I’m open to suggestions and critique, so feel free to let me know if there’s a better term I should be using.

For the purposes of this list, I went with the broadest definitions possible. It’s definitely not all-inclusive, and I chose not to include poets. My intent is to publish a non-fiction list soon (fingers crossed). The links below will take you to information about each author. I’ve also included book titles, and (genres).

Ahdaf SoueifThe Map of Love (historical)

Ahlam MosteghanemiMemory in the Flesh (historical)

Ahmed SaadawiFrankenstein in Baghdad (horror/contemporary)

Alia MamdouhNaphtalene (historical)

Assaf GavronThe Hilltop and Almost Dead (contemporary)

Elif ShafakThe Bastard of Istanbul, The Forty Rules of Love (contemporaries) and The Architect’s Apprentice (historical)

Hanan al-ShaykhThe Story of Zahra and Women of Sand and Myrrh (contemporary)

Khaled HosseiniThe Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns and And the Mountains Echoed (contemporary)

Laila LalamiThe Moor’s Account (historical) and Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits (contemporary)

Miral al-TahawyThe Tent and Brooklyn Heights (contemporary)

Orhan PamukMy Name is Red (historical) and Snow (contemporary)

Rabih AlameddineAn Unnecessary Woman (contemporary)

Radwa AshourThe Woman from Tantoura (contemporary)

Raja’a AlemThe Dove’s Necklace (mystery)

Rajaa al-SaneaGirls of Riyadh (contemporary)

Randa Abdel-FattahDoes My Head Look Big in This? and The Lines We Cross (teen)

Randa JarrarA Map of Home (contemporary)

Saladin AhmedThrone of the Crescent Moon (sci-fi)

Shahriar MandanipourCensoring an Iranian Love story (contemporary)

Susan AbulhawaMornings in Jenin (historical/contemporary) and The Blue Between Sky and Water (contemporary)

Wajdi al-AhdalA Land Without Jasmine (mystery)

 

I hope this post inspires you to branch out, and try a new author. Please let me know if you think I should add anyone.

Happy reading, everyone!