Enter to win an ebook copy of An Ishmael of Syria
Winner will be chosen the 27th January 2017
Today, I have the privilege of introducing you to An Ishmael of Syria by Asaad Almohammad. This book has been nominated for 2016 Goodreads Choice Award.
I found it to be full of raw power. Read on to find out more.
An Ishmael of Syria by Asaad Almohammad
Adam is a tortured soul. Exiled from his homeland, forced to watch the horrors unfold from afar. His family, still living – or surviving – in war-torn Syria, struggle daily.
Adam tries to be a ‘global citizen’ and become a part of his new community in Malaysia, but is constantly faced with intolerance, bigotry, and plain old racism. Opportunities are few and Adam finds himself working long hours for poor pay so that he can help his family.
The increasingly distressing news bulletins, along with Adam’s haunting childhood memories, compel him to examine his own beliefs; in God, in humanity, in himself and his integrity as a reluctant bystander in the worst human catastrophe of the twenty-first century.
Ann Girdharry’s View
Shocking. Anguished. Insightful. Don’t expect this to be a comfortable read.
However, I’d rank this as a must-read, particularly for anyone interested in understanding the experiences and emotions of a man in exile.
I should tell you too, that the style of writing may change forever your view of what a novel is or should be.
I admit that being inside the head of the main character required all my concentration. We witness Adam’s fragmented encounters in Malaysia with strangers, fellow students, colleagues and other Syrians unable to return to their home country.
With each conversation we come to better understand Adam’s state of mind and terrible helplessness, despite, or perhaps because of the fact, that he is the financial lifeline his family at home depend upon. We see that it isn’t only the Syrians in Syria who struggle, Adam struggles daily to survive too, just in different ways to his family.
The writing is interspersed with passages from Adam’s life as a young boy and the friends and family he grew up with.
I think this book is so powerful because it’s so raw, so don’t look for literary perfection.
Reading of Adam’s experience has forged a link between me and the Syrian people – just from the reading of one book – I call that remarkable.
Photoshot of Asaad Almohammad
Five Things You Didn’t Know about Asaad Almohammad
1.An Ishmael of Syria is my debut novel. It’s about a young Syrian man who is haunted by his past as he tries to find a home. It’s also about struggling against odds that we all might face. Rather than centre on surmounting his struggles, the novel is more about his journey. The story follows Adam across Syria, Lebanon, and Malaysia between 1989 and 2015.
2. For a year or so I’d translated my first-hand experiences coupled with my psychological insight into a work of fiction. With terrorism, radicalisation, and the refugee crisis becoming the centre of heated debate, I thought that the story is one that readers might appreciate.
The novel is semi-autobiographical. I have to say the bulk of it actually happened. I’ve used some artistic licence to weave the stories together. But in essence everything happened. Through the narrator, I used critical consciousness as a tool in tackling a number of socio-political issues. I wanted to engage the mainstream audience without neglecting readers with deeper knowledge of the region and issues conveyed through the book.
3. I was born and raised in Syria. I moved to Malaysia around 8 years ago and just recently finished my PhD in neuro-political psychology and marketing. I live with my wife and our two cats.
4. For the last few years I’ve been working as a consultant on a number of issues spanning across deradicalisation intervention programmes, civil unrest, illicit financial flows, and due diligence research.
5. I am avid follower of news on foreign policy, trade, and immigration. One of my favourite pastimes is discussing current affairs and politics with my wife and friends
Add this one to your ‘to buy’ list and please remember to post up a reader’s review, for instance on Amazon. Reviews are important because they help authors to get noticed. (They are especially important to new and lesser-known authors.)
You can find out more about Asaad Almohammad here http://asaadalmohammad.com/
Until next time and Happy Reading!
Here's a Christmas Advent Calendar for booklovers from BeckValley Books.
"If your looking for gifts or treating yourself, dive right into our own unique interactive Advent Calendar full of fabulous books...."
I'm excited to share with you all Beck Valley Book's unique interactive Christmas Advent for booklovers!! If your looking for gifts or treating yourself, dive right into the Advent Calendar full of fabulous books from so many amazing authors for Christmas Gifts or for you to enjoy, special offers too!
Here we go....
Hover over the dates and they will become alive with so many wonderful book choices and some offers! Click on the blog post link in each date to be taken to the author's own Christmas advent page where you will find out much more plus what makes Christmas special for them this year.
This week’s author is one for poetry lovers.
What is it about poetry that makes it magical? If you like poems, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. In poetry, meaning and feeling can be captured in a few words. Today, I’m joined by Hibah Shabkhez.
I came across the poetry of Hibah Shabkhez by chance on a part of Goodreads which is frequented not by readers but by authors. Her poems are so enticing, polished and easy to read that they give the (surely false) impression they were easy to write.
Rather, I think this tells us of the writer’s talent. Read on to find out more.
Alack, The Ashen Waves of the Sea by Hibah Shabkhez
Alack, The Ashen Waves of the Sea is a book of quatrain poems that would have you sing softly of love and light and laughter, of truth and of daring, of knowledge and innocence and fantasy. With this silken string of quatrain-chaunts, let yourself soar feckless unto the sun, like Icarus, for the space of one glad smile.
Ann Girdharry’s View
I think that talking too much about poetry can spoil it. Poetry is such a personal experience and, when well done, can evoke surprising emotions, or memories, in the reader.
I enjoyed this varied, short collection which, in my interpretation, included themes of love, loss, death, the existential, the beauty of nature. The book description above gives a glimpse of the treats instore.
In each quatrain, I liked the way the author played with so few words to give such depth. The poems reflect the creativity, mastery of words and life view of the author.
Photoshot of Hibah Shabkhez
Hibah is so eloquent - I really enjoyed her responses to Five Things You Didn’t Know about Hibah Shabkhez -
1. I like to think of myself more as a number of people operating under the alias ‘Hibah Shabkhez’ than as one person defined by the name. This deliberately Wemmick approach to identity does tend to make people believe I am a trifle bonkers, but then who wants to pretend to be sane anyway?
2. Languages fascinate me, especially the impact that sound and spelling have upon meaning. So I made language-teaching my ‘half-plate’ – my regular job – and I add to it a slice of every language I run across. For my diary, of course, I invented a multilingual secret alphabet all my own.
3. One of my selves is a Pakistani girl who dreams of adventures, of discovering brave new worlds and a million different ways of living. At present I am in Paris studying at a university right out of my storybooks, and daily I discover some fresh beauty in this land of strangers like me. As long as I live I pray that every day will bring me new wonders, one sleepy windswept park-square at a time.
4. Recipes and principles of good sense make standard cooking rather boring, but I do like crazy culinary experiments. So, every once in a while, I grab a bowl, beat up half a dozen eggs, and toss in a fistful each of all things vaguely edible around me, from chocolate-coated cereal to chunks of fish ... Try it out sometime.
5. According to the lore of my country, royal children in olden days learnt a craft as a sort of back-up plan against penury. As a writer in the ivory tower of legend, I chose book-binding to be my ‘royal skill’. It may not haul in the millions, but it certainly allows me to bind myself hundreds of books.
Thanks for joining me today, Hibah, and having a ‘royal skill’ sounds like a great idea.
You can check out more about Hibah Shabkhez here - https://www.facebook.com/hibahshabkhezsarusaihiryu/ and here http://languedouche.blogspot.fr.
Next time, I’ll be joined by an author nominated for this year’s Goodreads Choice Award. His powerful book is based on the experiences of a Syrian in exile. Watch this space.
Today’s author is Nadia Hashimi. Nadia has twice been nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award 2014 and 2015. Read on to find out more.
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi
In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age.
But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-aunt, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.
Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl That Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women.
Ann Girdharry’s View
The two girls in this story lived generations apart but they share similar experiences - the experience of a terrifying marriage as a child bride, the abuse of their family-in-laws, the punishing attitude of their husbands, and their lowly status as women in a society that values men.
We see how precious their links are with other women and how Shekiba and Rahima can be made or broken by them.
There are a few brighter moments and there is much hardship and tragedy. We gain an insight into Afghanistan and I found my interest caught by all the details of everyday life.
This is an uncomfortable tale and I liked it because it was out of the mould of many books. So, if you’re looking for something a little different, this is definitely for you.
I felt both Shekiba and Rahima were incredibly strong young women. The story left me with a lot think about, especially the similarities and differences in women’s lives across the globe and the power of inner strength.
Photoshot of Nadia Hashimi
Five Things You Didn’t Know about Nadia Hashimi -
1. I think I was in middle school when I read Flowers in the Attic (V.C. Andrews). I’m sure my parents would cringe to know that I was in middle school when I dug into a novel about caged siblings drifting toward incest. I was a voracious reader and tore through anything I could find. Though it may not have been the most age-appropriate selection, I’m thankful my parents didn’t police my choices. Reading has been my only preparation for writing and Andrews and so many authors have surely influenced my story-telling in some way.
2. I hate mushrooms. This may be a strange thing for a mostly-vegetarian (I do eat fish) to say but mushrooms are fungus. I refuse to ingest things called tree ears or be fooled by fancy names like Portobello.
3. I do a lot of writing in coffee shops for three reasons. One: Coffee. Two: I get to people watch which is absolutely essential to my writing. You never know when you may eavesdrop on a juicy conversation. Three: Coffee. (Or did I mention that already?)
4. Writing is my way of channelling outrage. Hearing about the hard choices families in war-torn countries have to make for their children, reading about young girls who are given as “brides” to men three times their age, learning about corruption at all levels of society, I am outraged. I used to share articles with friends so that they could share my outrage. I’d also yell at the television which is heartbreakingly ineffective. Since people tell me that my stories enlighten, inspire and educate, I think it’s far more productive than what I was doing before.
5. I’ve travelled to more than 25 countries around the world. In my grandfather’s words, travel matures a person. I’d like to think those early trips to India humbled and informed me about the harsh lives so many people lead. It is a beautiful country with a vibrant culture and posh tourist spots but because we were visiting family who had fled to India as refugees, we stayed in areas where poverty was quite evident. I’m hoping to open my children’s eyes once they’re a little bit older. I think they’ll be better global citizens if they get a taste of the world’s diversity and a view of how income disparities play out in real life.
Thank you for talking to us today, Nadia.
You can check out about Nadia and find out more about her books here - http://nadiahashimi.com
I did a guest post this week on Bloomin'BrilliantBooks.
"I’m delighted to be joined by author of Good Girl Bad Girl Ann Girdharry today. Ann has started a regular feature in the Huffington Post in which she reviews a book by a new author of colour. One of my favourite books is White Teeth by Zadie Smith, but I have to admit that I have not read many books by authors of colour, mainly because they just don’t seem to be out there, and yet they must be! Ann is highlighting and spotlighting some of these authors in her new feature and I will hand over to Ann to tell you more about this…"
You can check out the full post here
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