Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana (by Gayle Lemmon)

I thought this was a great true story.  When the Taliban take over, a woman in Afghanistan starts a dressmaking business with her sisters in her home in order to support her family.  I enjoyed learning about a different aspect of life in Afghanistan.  The author is a journalist who has covered the region and felt compelled to share this story.

From Amazon:

The life Kamila Sidiqi had known changed overnight when the Taliban seized control of the city of Kabul. After receiving a teaching degree during the civil war—a rare achievement for any Afghan woman—Kamila was subsequently banned from school and confined to her home. When her father and brother were forced to flee the city, Kamila became the sole breadwinner for her five siblings. Armed only with grit and determination, she picked up a needle and thread and created a thriving business of her own.

The Dressmaker of Khair Khana tells the incredible true story of this unlikely entrepreneur who mobilized her community under the Taliban. Former ABC News reporter Gayle Tzemach Lemmon spent years on the ground reporting Kamila's story, and the result is an unusually intimate and unsanitized look at the daily lives of women in Afghanistan. These women are not victims; they are the glue that holds families together; they are the backbone and the heart of their nation. Afghanistan's future remains uncertain as debates over withdrawal timelines dominate the news. 

Read: October 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Exile by Richard North Patterson

Oooo, this one is good!  It felt like a throwback to the good old John Grisham books - part tense investigation, part courtroom drama.  

Here's the summary from Barnes & Noble:  

David Wolfe is a successful American lawyer being primed for a run for Congress. But when the phone rings and he hears the voice of Hana Arif--the Palestinian woman with whom he had a secret affair in law school--he begins a completely unexpected journey.
The next day, the prime minister of Israel is assassinated by a suicide bomber while visiting San Francisco. Soon, Hana is accused of being the mastermind behind the murder. Now David faces an agonizing choice: Will he, a Jew, represent her?
The most challenging case of David's career requires that he delve deep into the lives of Hana and her militant Palestinian husband, all the way back to Israel and the West Bank. There he uncovers the couple's dangerous connections…culminating in an explosive trial where the stakes are Hana's life--and the future of two peoples.

I really enjoyed this one, especially because we just got back from Israel where we studied the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Part of the story takes place in Israel which was neat to read about.  The book is a long, but I thought it was good to read, especially if you like legal thrillers or have an interest in the Middle East.  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Philosopher's Apprentice by James Morrow

Oh my.  How to describe this very bizarre book?  This is by far one of the strangest stories ever.  I tried to write a summary but gave up because it was way too complicated - cloning, conscience, abortion, hijacking and murder.  All cloaked in philosophy terms.  Ugh.  For example, these crazy right wing people find a way to use DNA from aborted fetuses, create clones of the would-be children, and send the clones to stalk/harass the would-be parents.  I mean, REALLY?

I read this at the recommendation of my Mimi and I cannot wait to see her to ask WHY on EARTH she liked this book?  It was just so weird!  Don't read it unless you are really desperate.  And even then just don't read it.

Read: September/October 2011

A Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz

This is Brian's favorite book.  Or at least one of them.  Written by an Egyptian novelist and set in Cairo during World War I, this novel examines the life of a tyrannical shop merchant, his subservient wife, the exploits of their three sons and two daughters.  The chapters follow each of the family members by turn, giving insight into their thoughts and motivations.  It was really well written and pretty interesting to get a glimpse at Egyptian society during the revolution against the British occupation.  The hard part was adjusting to the names of people and places and trying to remember who was who, especially if I put the book down for more than a few days.  It took me a while to read because I got distracted with other things and it was pretty long!

Read: April - September 2011