Sunday, 17 June 2012

A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khalid Hosseini

I've had this book lying around my house for quite a while. Maybe a couple of years now. Never doubted from all the positive reviews that it was a good book. Just never picked it up because I got the impression it was a sad story and I don't particularly warm to sad stories! Finally packed it on Monday for the return journey from London to Belfast and got through 200 of the 400 pages that first day! "Engrossed" is quite the understatement. I'm an otherwise slow reader yet managed to get through around 50 pages every evening that followed. I guess that says it all. Brilliant book. Absolute must read.


Fight to your opponent's rhythm;
you will lag, you will lose.

You have to
have to have to
enter each fight, each round
with a rhythm, your rhythm.

Dance your opponent to your tune.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Mother of the Believers, by Kamran Pasha

Finished this book about a month ago. Not managed to get around to writing a review til now. An enjoyable read! I thought it was going to be a fictionalised biography of Aisha (God's pleasure be upon her and all the Prophet's family and companions). What it is instead is the story of the birth and early years of Islam told through the eyes of Aisha. Of course Aisha would not have been present at all the events that take place in the book but it's this - the author's imaginative method of telling the story - that's part of what makes the book such an enjoyable read.

The author does well in my opinion in depicting the characters and portraying them as being human, which I think is often-time lacking in contemporary Islamic literature. I feel we often read/write about the great companions of the Prophet Muhammad and what they achieved as though they were emotion-less, machine-like beings, forgetting the passions, pains and fears they would have inevitably felt in foregoing their ways of old and embracing a new way of life.

Truth be told, there were times in the book - such as the portrayal of Fatima and Ali (the Prophet's daughter and cousin/son-in-law) specifically as being other worldly, or the repetitive mention of how very old and senile Abu Bakr and Uthman were, or the occasional slip in of how ill-mannered Umar was, or the recurring theme that Aisha was unable to forgive Ali for a comment he once made about her in the presence of the Prophet - that had me thinking "hmm, that's a bit strange, a bit overkill" but the book definitely overall was very respectful and courteous towards all of the Prophet's companions, and definitely left me wanting to find more books of this kind. So a thumbs up from me!