Sunday, November 18, 2007


Ray Carver's "Cathedral" is often assigned in college English classes. At this juncture, I highly recommend Leila Aboulela's beautiful 2005 novel Minaret be added to the list. A minaret, for one thing, is Islam's equivalent to the spires of a Christian cathedral, and this work explores -- from a woman's perspective -- a slice of Muslim life in London. Minaret is ideal for book clubs, reading circles, summer reading, and extra credit student reading from teenager on up. If it was a movie, it would be rated PG.

What is behind the veil? Minaret provides compelling glimpses. Najwa (the narrator) is a woman working as a servant in London. Her family has fallen down in the world -- her father had been a high-ranking government official in Sudan until toppled by a coup d' état. With father gone, her mother sick, ne'er-do-well brother in prison, how will Najwa survive? As a sheltered Sudanese college student, she had enjoyed American culture and had a lot of carefree fun; once exiled and with little support, she turns to a more spiritual life infused with Islam. I love this novel!

Today's Rune: Defense.


Lana said...

Thanks for the tip! It sounds like an interesting read for when I finish Christopher Hitchens' "God is Not Great." <:\

Erik Donald France said...

Thanks Lana! I was happily surprised when a student requested a copy of Hitchens -- they're not all brain dead ;)

Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds interesting. I should read more outside my comfort zone.