The Real and the Imaginary: The Baghdad Clock by Shahad Al Rawi

As a war narrative enveloped in magic, love, and hope, The Baghdad Clock adds depth to the burgeoning genre of postcolonial Iraqi novels.

Susan Sontag on Compassion

“Compassion is an unstable emotion. It needs to be translated into action, or it withers. The question is what to do with the feelings that have been aroused, the knowledge that has been communicated. If one feels that there is nothing “we” can do—but who is that “we”?—and nothing “they” can do either—and who are “they”?—then one starts to get bored, cynical, apathetic.”

Most Anticipated Books of 2020 (May-September)

Without a doubt, 2020 has been a testing time for all of us across the globe. Fortunately for us book … More

A Feminism of One’s Own: Distant View of a Minaret by Alifa Rifaat

Alifa Rifaat’s stories are situated within an Islamic framework that allows her to create a feminism of her own. Since Islam and empowerment are often misguidedly placed in contradiction to one another, it’s easy to see why Rifaat is not a household name.

Van Gogh on Hope & Melancholy

“So instead of giving way to despair, I took the way of active melancholy as long as I had strength for activity, or in other words, I preferred the melancholy that hopes and aspires and searches to the one that despairs, mournful and stagnant.”

Author Spotlight: Carley Mercedes

“…But every once in a while, I’ll read a book that glorifies problematic relationship behaviors such as manipulation or even stalking. I don’t ever want to write a book that encourages women to seek out unhealthy, or even dangerous, relationships, so I focus on creating relationships that are healthy.”

The Year of the Middle Eastern Reading Challenge + Unapologetically Muslim Reading Challenge? Yes, please.

This may all seem too idealistic to some but nonetheless conveys a crucial message about the role of the artist and what cultural and literary representations can offer in the ongoing debates about the so-called “problem” of Muslims in the Anglophone North Atlantic.

George Eliot & Virginia Woolf on Happiness

“Happiness,” Woolf writes, “is in the quiet, ordinary things. A table, a chair, a book with a paper-knife stuck between the pages. And the petal falling from the rose, and the light flickering as we sit silent.”

Comfort Reads: What to Read in Troubling Times | Part II

To deal with the sense of ambivalence and confinement, I read. Reflecting back on my refuge in books, yes, I needed comfort and escape, but I was essentially trying to make sense of the turmoil not by watching the news but by reading.