Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dear Great Book Guru, A few weeks ago I attended an event at St Boniface's Church at which Sea Cliff's Mayor Bruce Kennedy spoke beautifully about education being the proper community response to prejudice. I vowed then that I would try to learn about other cultures and religions this year. I would like to begin with a novel. Can you suggest one to help me reach my goal? Eager to Learn

Dear Eager, I have a wonderful book I read a few weeks ago which I think you will enjoy and find worthwhile: THE GOOD MUSLIM by Tahmima Anam. Set in 1980's Bangladesh, the book traces the diverging paths of a brother and sister who have each been traumatized by the brutality of war. Sohail Haku turns from a secular life of the intellect to become a charismatic religious leader while his sister Maya becomes a physician, completely eschewing the faith of her childhood. The inevitable conflicts are exacerbated when Maya returns home after a seven year absence to find the family home has become the center of Sohail's ministry. She feels her young nephew has been neglected as a result of his father's fervor while Sohail sees his sister as an evil influence on the boy and the community. That good, loving people can find themselves at such different places is the novel's troubling theme. Throughout, we see examples of misunderstanding, miscues, and misplaced blame but the book also us shows a possibility of redemption. Meanwhile, we learn much about the plight of the Bangladesh people, their troubled history, and our common humanity. This is definitely a worthwhile read and relatively short (304 pages).

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