Short Book Recommendation

Friends,

I just finished reading this book. I read it in about a day less than I read HP. I found this book to be compelling, moving,The Kite Runner and profoundly searching. The author’s portrait of forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation are, at times, utterly incomprehensible and mind-boggling. This book is, at times, horrifying. The author has not given us an edited view of his characters’ frustrations, anger, hurt, pain, and struggles. Nor has he given us a sanitized portrait of life in Ahghanistan under the Taliban. There are sections in the book when those with certain sensibilities will wonder why they are reading it, and other times when those same people will wonder how humans can be so abominable.  He does not bleach the language and frequently mixes in Afghan words (although most of the time he translates them for the reader).

I remain unmoved by his Islamic faith, and yet I found myself wondering exactly how it is that my preconceived ideas of Islam, formed in a variety of ways, didn’t seem to match up with what I read in this book. His picture of Islam is not what I read of in history books or hear in current media depictions or witnessed on 9/11. He made me wonder if it was not, in some sense, an apologetic for Islam. To be sure, there is a huge difference between what he depicts as ‘every man’s Islam’ and that of the Taliban and more militaristic forms of Islam. On the other hand, I didn’t detect an evangelistic motive in his writing: The author struggles with his ‘faith’ just as much as anyone. His themes of redemption, friendship, and loyalty outweigh, in my opinion, his attachment to Islam. Christianity makes only a brief appearance in the book in the form of a make believe couple and Jesus is mentioned only a couple of times, but not in any religious or devotional sort of way. This does not detract from the book, and shouldn’t offend or bother readers.

The copy I read was 371 pages and published by Riverhead Books in 2003. It is a first person historical narrative, set in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and partly in the US, and covers many years of the main character Amir’s life. You will like this book, if you are a reader. It is fictional, yet I also wonder how much of it is autobiographical. Finally, this book is just good story-telling; one of the best stories I have ever read (and I read a lot of books). I’ll look forward to your thoughts and responses. Also, if you have read any of his other work, let me know that as well. I highly recommend this book. It is worth the read and, since I have argued that it is important for us to ‘learn about others’ in the proper context, this book is a good context to learn about Islam–at least from one man’s perspective. (Mind you: The book is not explicitly about Islam.)

jerry 

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