The eight books included here tell provocative and gripping stories about the experiences of Muslims around the world and in the United States. Adapted from among the books included on the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Muslim Journeys Bookshelf, these memoirs and novels provide insight into a diverse array of contemporary Muslim lives. Each powerfully illustrates how the humanities promote understanding of and mutual respect for people with diverse stories, cultures, and perspectives within the U.S. and abroad. To host this Reading & Discussion program, please review the application guidelines, and follow the link to our online application.
Nobel Prize-winning author Pamuk’s novel tells the story of a poet seeking his lost love in a remote Turkish town riven by religious conflict and cut off from the world by a blizzard. Returning to Turkey from exile in the West, Ka is driven by curiosity to investigate a surprising wave of suicides among religious girls forbidden to wear their head scarves in school. But the epicenter of the suicides, the eastern border city of Kars, is also home to the radiant and newly divorced Ypek, a friend of Ka’s youth whom he has never forgotten and whose spirited younger […]
Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Satrapi’s acclaimed graphic tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family.
Leila Aboulela’s American debut is a provocative, timely, and engaging novel about a young Muslim woman — once privileged and secular in her native Sudan and now impoverished in London — gradually embracing her orthodox faith. With her Muslim hijab and down-turned gaze, Najwa is invisible to most eyes, especially to the rich families whose houses she cleans in London. After a coup forces her wealthy family to flee Khartoum, Najwa eventually finds solace and love in the Muslim community of her adopted country.
In Libya in 1979, nine-year-old Suleiman’s days are circumscribed by the narrow rituals of childhood: outings to the ruins surrounding Tripoli, games with friends played under the burning sun, exotic gifts from his father’s constant business trips abroad. But his nights have come to revolve around his mother’s increasingly disturbing bedside stories full of old family bitterness. When his father is suddenly arrested by the Revolutionary Guard, Suleiman is caught up in a world he cannot begin to understand. Matar’s gripping novel was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize.
Just over a century ago , W.E.B. Du Bois posed a probing question in his classic The Souls of Black Folk: How does it feel to be a problem? Now, Moustafa Bayoumi asks the same about America’s new “problem”: Arab- and Muslim-Americans. Bayoumi takes readers into the lives of seven twenty-somethings living in Brooklyn, home to the largest Arab-American population in the United States.
During the Arab Uprising of 2011, New York Times reporter Shadid was captured and beaten in Libya. Upon his release, he decided not to return to Oklahoma City, where his Lebanese-American family lives, but rather to go to Lebanon and rebuild his great-grandfather’s estate. In this moving memoir, Shadid recounts both the story of the lost world of his forefathers’ generation and reveals the shifting, volatile Middle East of today.
Fourteen years ago, famous Pakistani activist Samina Akram disappeared. Two years earlier, her lover, Pakistan’s greatest poet, was beaten to death by government thugs. In present-day Karachi, her daughter Aasmaani has just discovered a letter in the couple’s private code-a letter that could only have been written recently. Merging the personal with the political, Shamsie’s novel is both a sharp, thrilling journey through modern-day Pakistan, a carefully coded mystery, and an intimate mother-daughter story that asks how we forgive a mother who leaves.
Patel, who grew up in Chicago as the son of Indian immigrants, tells the remarkable account of growing up Muslim in America and coming to believe in religious pluralism. He recounts moving from a desire to assimilate to an embrace of angry identity politics in college to finally resolving to be fully American and fully Muslim at the same time.