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Posted December 1, 2011
This book is ¿East of Eden¿ meets ¿Old Man and the Sea,¿ with ¿Jane Eyre¿ playing the lead. It has all of the merits of classic literature with none of the traditional arrogance. The English language is used in a new way that has rarely been seen before. The Arab women in the novel appear to be oppressed, but they are also powerful beyond measure.
Faqir crafts a masterful narrative using, seemingly, simple methods. She does what many other authors do by using symbolism and metaphor; however, she goes beyond the usual techniques to create a deeper dimension in the novel. She is able to do this because she is not as inundated in the culture of ¿English¿ as other writers. She does not rely on language to be the dominant vehicle of expression, in fact, if the reader gets too caught up in the language it detracts from the development of deeper meanings in the plot. Faqir is unique in this way because the reader has to walk a figurative tightrope by not focusing on the words too much and also paying significant attention to the language of the text. If there is too little attention paid to the word-by-word strategy, then the reader is unable to recognize Faqir for her complex and impressive linguistic performance. If there is too much attention paid to each word in the novel then certain readers will fail to recognize Faqir¿s larger message. The author does not give her audience the luxury of easy reading, but the book is impossible to put down after reading the first few pages.
It is easy for a reader to become hypnotized by the main character, whether through her own voice or the voices of those around her. The main character is a walking contradiction ¿ as are most of the characters in the novel. She is uneducated, eloquent, wise, ironic, happy, and sad. Faqir¿s characters are all distinctly unique, especially the two narrators who bring an authority to the text that is different from any other. The male narrator is stereotypical, foolish, brilliant, foreign, arrogant, and self-conscious. Faqir paints her characters with countless layers, and yet, the reader does not notice she is doing it at all. She pulls her audience into a fully formed world of sorrow, happiness, war, abuse, beauty, and significance, however, depending on which member of the audience it is, the world may be all of those things for very different reasons.
Fadia Faqir portrays a wonderfully realistic world in her novel. The reader can almost feel the air between the pages and hear the sound of the Dead Sea. However, it is important for all readers to realize that this is a fictional account of fictional people. It is not an ethnographic study of the Bedouin people, or any other person in the country of Jordan. It is all too often that English readers want a book to tell them how women live in other countries and Faqir does not give them that. She mixes universal human emotions with such detail and grace that the reader cannot believe that this world belongs to anyone except the characters living in it.
Posted October 16, 2001
I don't care where you are from, whether you are male,female, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Arabic, Swedish, Mongolian, you have got to read this book. It is a story about two women from different worlds who meet in an asylum in Jordan and strike up a peculiar friendship and relate their life stories and how they ended up in the asylum. The more you learn about them the more you become sucked into the story. It has everything from love, deception, family feuds, jealousy, death, war, passion, you name it , it's in there. I HIGHLY recommend reading this book if you are the type of person who likes epics and who enjoys really getting involved in teh storyline. It is beautifully written and you will just get so carried away with it you will not be able to put it down. ENJOY!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 18, 2009
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