Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category

A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED by Dara Horn

The idea for writing a modern version of the biblical story of Joseph came apparently from the author’s husband. It is a brilliant one, even more brilliantly executed. First, because she uses it for resonance rather than prediction; you recognize the biblical parallels after they have occurred, but you never know when she is going to depart from the Genesis version, so her novel remains surprising to the end. Second, because the Egyptian setting grounds the book in aspects of Jewish history that are perhaps less well-known, but obviously relevant to the eternal geopolitical situation in the Middle East. And third, because the Torah reference provides the perfect opening to explore many issues in Jewish teaching and philosophy, most notably those concerning divine providence, accident, and free will. The title of her novel, actually, is borrowed from a treatise on these very questions written in Cairo by the twelfth century doctor and philosopher Maimonides. The result, in Horn’s hands, is a richly layered novel that is humane, exciting, informative, and thought-provoking, all at the same time.

February 18, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Family Matters, Literary, Middle East, Speculative (Beyond Reality), Theme driven, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

ELEVEN DAYS by Lea Carpenter

n a blog that she wrote for the Huffington Post, Lea Carpenter notes that eleven days was the period of truce negotiated between King Priam and Achilles in the Iliad after the death of Hector — an encounter movingly narrated by David Malouf in his novel Ransom. It is an appropriate reference for many reasons, not least the almost classical values that Carpenter both celebrates and espouses in her storytelling; this gripping debut novel is immediate in content, ample in moral perspective, rich and thoughtful in its human values.

December 11, 2013 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Debut Novel, Middle East, Reading Guide, Washington, D.C.

A PALACE IN THE OLD VILLAGE by Tahar Ben Jelloun

In A PALACE IN THE OLD VILLAGE Tahar Ben Jelloun tells the elegiac and moving story of a simple man from a small village in Morocco, who feels completely lost in the fast moving, modern world. Mohammed had to change “from one time to another, one life to another” when back in 1962, this young peasant was persuaded to leave his remote village in Morocco and join the immigrant labour force in France. Now forty years later, he is about to start his retirement and this new situation preoccupies and worries him deeply. From one moment to the next, it will end the years of daily routines which have made him feel safe, secure and needed. They have also protected him from reflecting on his life and its challenges : “Everything seemed difficult to him, complicated, and he knew he was not made for conflicts.”

February 26, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: France, Middle East, World Lit

THE GOOD SON by Michael Gruber

The amazingly versatile Gruber has done it again, filling us armchair adventurers with knowledge as well as thrills and making the outlandish plausible.

This time he leaves behind themes of previous books – the diabolical intricacies of the art world (The Forgery of Venus), Shakespearean intrigue (The Book of Air and Shadows), Cuban Santeria (The Jimmy Paz trilogy) – to take on the intrigues of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Before you start groaning, let me say that those who find the whole muddle a hopeless quagmire will gain greater understanding and those who prefer their political thrillers in black and white should look elsewhere.

February 13, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Afghanistan, India-Pakistan, Middle East, Thriller/Spy/Caper

SMALL KINGDOMS by Anastasia Hobbet

In the period right after the first Gulf War, an uneasiness hung all over Kuwait—its residents forever waiting for Saddam Hussein to strike again. As an American expat in the country for five years around that same time period, author Anastasia Hobbet witnessed this unease first hand. It forms a perfect backdrop for her novel, Small Kingdoms, which tells the story of an assorted set of Kuwaiti and American characters.

January 27, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Middle East, World Lit

THE MUSEUM OF INNOCENCE by Orhan Pamuk

I don’t know why I resisted Orhan Pamuk all of these years, but one thing’s for sure – I now can’t live without him. I remember the critical acclaim that followed Pamuk in 2005 after the release of Snow, but even with a Nobel Prize under his belt, I was hardly swayed. That may have had something to do with my obsessive relationship with Philip Roth during that time – after all, I’m a loyal gal. And this Pamuk guy was not going to take me away from the legendary Zuckermans and Kepeshes of modern Jewish fiction.

This was all before a few months ago when I stumbled across a review of Pamuk’s literary masterpiece, The Museum of Innocence. The premise of the novel immediately had me fixated: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy spends the next eight years of his life…sitting in a living room with girl, her husband, and her parents, watching Turkish serials and the evening news, night after night. Now that’s what hooked me: the utter devotion and sacrifice that boy made just to see his beloved, day after day, for eight torturous years, with hardly any affirmation from his object of affection.

October 7, 2010 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Literary, Middle East, Nobel Prize for Literature, Reading Guide, Translated, Turkey, World Lit, y Award Winning Author