The Other Americans

The Other Americans comes out in the US today from author Laila Lalami, whose novel, The Moor’s Account, was nominated for the Pulitzer. 

The Other Americans is at once a family saga, a mystery, and a romance. Nora, the daughter of Moroccan immigrants, is sitting in a restaurant with a friend when she finds out that her father was killed in a hit and run crash. As the police try to find whoever is responsible, Nora reconnects with old friends and enemies and unearths secrets.   View Post

Unmarriageable

If we women decide to marry according to standards, then we are gold diggers, but when you weigh us in terms of looks and chasteness, then you’re just being smart. I can’t stand these double standards.

I have frequently thought about the similarities between Jane Austen’s regency era and Muslim life, so I’m always glad to see an Austen reboot with a Muslim spin. Unfortunately, I found the Muslim representation in Soniah Kamal’s Unmarriageable offensive and the writing mediocre. View Post

The Green Bicycle by Haifaa Al Mansour

The Green Bicycle is a middle grade novel based on the feature film Wadjda—the first Saudi Arabian produced film directed by a woman. The director, Haifaa Al Mansour, is the author of the book. I haven’t seen the movie, but I can say that sometimes when books are based on movies (instead of the other way around), they feel incomplete or are paced awkwardly. Not so here. This novel is really well-written, with short chapters that keep the plot moving. View Post

A Place for Us

9781524763558

An exquisitely written story about the members of an Indian-American Muslim family struggling to find a place to belong both at home and in the world

Rafiq and Layla want their children to honor the traditions of their own upbringings in India. That means arranged marriages, traditional gender roles, and preserving their image in the community. Rafiq is proud, harsh, and detached, and Layla, strong but silent, chooses to keep the peace rather than challenge him. Their three children are American born and raised and have their own expectations for life, but neither Rafiq nor Layla is willing to recognize the difference between themselves and their children. Hadia is the perfect, dependable older sister. Huda is the middle sister—religious and independent. Amar is their younger brother—bright and sensitive but always in trouble. While the family is tight-knit, the house is often a quiet, tense place, and the relationships and interactions are often toxic.

The novel opens at Hadia’s wedding, where she is (surprisingly) marrying a partner of her own choice. Amar’s presence at the wedding is the source of serious tension; he has been estranged from the family, and the wedding is the first time they have seen him in years. View Post