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!
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