Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mother of the Believers

The title caught my eye-- Mother of the Believers. It is the story of the birth of Islam,  told as the memoir of Aisha, a  Mother of the Believers, as the prophet Muhammad's wives were called.  If you want to learn about the history of Islam from the point of view of a Muslim, this book is a very enjoyable way of doing so. I was describing the story to a Muslim friend, and he told me that I probably now know more about the birth of Islam than some people born and raised in Muslim countries. He also told me that this book was written from the Sunni perspective. (He was raised in the Shia or Shiite traditions.) The different branches of Islam arose after the death of Muhammad, a result of conflict on the question of succession. The conflict is touched on in the novel.

The author, Kamran Pasha, is described in the book covers as "an acclaimed Hollywood screenwriter and television producer" who was born in Pakistan and moved to the US at the age of three and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. When I saw his next book, "Shadow of the Swords" there was no question -- I had to have it. This second novel is the story of the Crusades --Richard the Lionheart battles Saladin.

A question and answer portion at the end of the book sheds light on the writing of this book.  Pasha wrote this novel in light of the current conflict between the Western and Muslim worlds. He says, "the Third Crusade represents in my view the closest analogy to the events of today, with one crucial difference-- the 'heroes' and the 'villains' are reversed." This novel is written in the third person because, Kamran Pasha says, "I wanted to be fair and true to the varying points of view about faith, politics, and warfare presented in the book."

While keeping true to historical facts about major events, Pasha adds fictional characters to bring across what he feels are important perspectives. The heroine of the story is Miriam, a fictional niece of the real Jewish scholar Maimonides who was court physician to Saladin. Pasha created Miriam, he said, "to give a woman's point of view as well as a Jewish perspective on both Christian and Muslim actions." Another important fictional character, Sir William Chinon, was added "because he represents what I believe is the true face of Christianity, a religion like Islam that at its best is about love, humility, and service."

Pasha is an excellent writer who makes you believe in his characters. I can't wait to see what he will write next.

Check out his Website

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I just finished reading Stieg Larsson's Trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest), thank goodness! I can't afford another sleepless night!

The trilogy traces the mysterious Lisbeth Salander, tattooed social misfit crime solver par excellence, as she partners with investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist to expose criminals within the establishment. The last mystery to be solved is the mystery of Slander's life, revealing her incredible story of survival.

I brought the third book to my doctor's appointment yesterday as I was almost at the end, and the nurse noticed it and said she was reading the same thing. She was as enthused about it as I was. She said she even brought one of the books to her daughter's recital and was sneaking in some reading while waiting for her daughter to come on, and another Mom in the audience noticed her and said she was also reading the trilogy and loved it.

Definitely a must-read, but before you start make sure you do not have any pressing deadlines for work or you will be seriously conflicted!