#YMERC2021 February

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

When the Apricots Bloom by Gina Wilkinson

In this moving, suspenseful debut novel, three courageous women confront the complexities of trust, friendship, motherhood, and betrayal under the rule of a ruthless dictator and his brutal secret police. Former foreign correspondent Gina Wilkinson draws on her own experiences to take readers inside a haunting story of Iraq at the turn of the millennium and the impossible choices faced by families under a deadly regime.

At night, in Huda’s fragrant garden, a breeze sweeps in from the desert encircling Baghdad, rustling the leaves of her apricot trees and carrying warning of visitors at her gate. Huda, a secretary at the Australian embassy, lives in fear of the mukhabarat—the secret police who watch and listen for any scrap of information that can be used against America and its allies. They have ordered her to befriend Ally Wilson, the deputy ambassador’s wife. Huda has no wish to be an informant, but fears for her teenaged son, who may be forced to join a deadly militia. Nor does she know that Ally has dangerous secrets of her own.
 
Huda’s former friend, Rania, enjoyed a privileged upbringing as the daughter of a sheikh. Now her family’s wealth is gone, and Rania too is battling to keep her child safe and a roof over their heads. As the women’s lives intersect, their hidden pasts spill into the present. Facing possible betrayal at every turn, all three must trust in a fragile, newfound loyalty, even as they discover how much they are willing to sacrifice to protect their families.

#YMERC GRAPHIC NOVEL OF THE MONTH

The Prophet: A Graphic Novel by Kahlil Gibran  (Author), Pete Katz (Illustrator)

A moving and thought-provoking adaptation of Kahlil Gibran’s classic poem.

An enduring and moving commentary on the human condition since its publication in 1923, Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet has been adapted as a graphic novel by award-winning illustrator Pete Katz. In this edition, Gibran’s classic poem is transformed into a narrative that shows how the words of the prophet Al Mustafa can help modern readers overcome personal struggles. Excerpts from Gibran’s original work are incorporated into full-color scenes so that readers can gain a deeper appreciation for one of the most popular books of the twentieth century.

#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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