#YMERC2021 January

Ahlan wa sahlan!

Thank you for joining in with us in the Year of the Middle Eastern Reading Challenge (YMERC).

As promised, I will begin each month with:

  • A book by a Middle Eastern author
  • A graphic novel by a Middle Eastern author and/or Middle Eastern illustrator
  • A new Arabic song to listen to throughout the month

At the end of each month, I’ll post:

  • My reviews on the books and graphic novels of the month
  • A Middle Eastern movie or TV show that I enjoyed that month

#YMERC BOOK OF THE MONTH

Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War by Marwan HishamMolly Crabapple

A young boy comes of age within the confines of post-civil-war Beirut, with conflict and comedy lurking around every corner.

Adam dreams of becoming an astronaut but who has ever heard of an Arab on the moon?

He battles with his father, a book-hoarding journalist with a penchant for writing eulogies, his closest friend, Basil, a Druze who is said to worship goats and believe in reincarnation, and a host of other misfits and miscreants in a city attempting to recover from years of political and military violence.

Adam’s youth oscillates from laugh out loud escapades, to near death encounters, as he struggles to understand the turbulent and elusive city he calls home. 

#YMERC GRAPHIC NOVEL OF THE MONTH

Embroideries by Marjane SatrapiAnjali Singh

From the best–selling author of Persepolis comes this gloriously entertaining and enlightening look into the sex lives of Iranian women. Embroideries gathers together Marjane’s tough–talking grandmother, stoic mother, glamorous and eccentric aunt and their friends and neighbors for an afternoon of tea drinking and talking. Naturally, the subject turns to love, sex and the vagaries of men.

As the afternoon progresses, these vibrant women share their secrets, their regrets and their often outrageous stories about, among other things, how to fake one’s virginity, how to escape an arranged marriage, how to enjoy the miracles of plastic surgery and how to delight in being a mistress. By turns revealing and hilarious, these are stories about the lengths to which some women will go to find a man, keep a man or, most important, keep up appearances.

Full of surprises, this introduction to the private lives of some fascinating women, whose life stories and lovers will strike us as at once deeply familiar and profoundly different from our own, is sure to bring smiles of recognition to the faces of women everywhere—and to teach us all a thing or two.

#YMERC ARABIC SONG OF THE MONTH

ilkul 3am bitjawaz “Everyone’s Getting Married” by Bashar Murad

As an Arab living in Jerusalem, he says he’s constantly challenging many of the conservative elements of his society.

“I try to be respectful to people – but also try not to.”

As an example, he mentions his song Everyone’s Getting Married, which riffs on his society’s traditional view of marriage.

“We’re always being asked, ‘When are you getting married?’ and we’ve created this concept that if you’re not married by the age of 30, that means there’s something wrong with you.”

Reference: BBC News Meet Bashar Murad: The Palestinian singer blurring gender lines

Don’t forget to spread the word on WordPress, Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #YMERC2020.

*The beautiful blog graphic is done by liv_does.

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