This is Sophia Al-Maria’s gentle reminder that you’re part of something bigger than the constructs of nations, religions, and ethnicities–you’re part of something bigger than yourself.
Neriman K., PhD
I'm a researcher, writer, teacher, and a comparatist--one who truly believes that discourse precedes action. I read and write to make meaning of the world I live in-- to explore what it means to live a meaningful life. On 'Reading Under the Olive Tree,' I write about what I read: all the books that are helping me shift my perception about a meaningful life, home, identity and what it means to belong. I write to bridge the gap between theory and popular discourse and to offer insight into the powerful connection between fiction and truth.
Quiet has helped me revisit some of the seemingly insignificant moments that had an impact on my growth as an introverted student. As I was reading the book, I was reminded how crucial it is for me as a teacher to accept my students’ “weaknesses,” as well as their strengths. It is my responsibility to encourage them to see if what they view as a weakness can actually be turned into a strength.
Perhaps I’ll soon have the capacity to see the silver lining in my experiences that marked the month of March; for now, I certainly know that March has emphasized the importance of good friends and books, as well as cats of course, yet once again.
What does it mean to love a homeland yet not be able to fully return? Eleftheriou asks in her book, and how can one express love for the same sex in a culture that doesn’t recognize its existence? How does one deal with the liberal privilege of labeling grief over such a cultural denial as inconsequential? Joanna’s insight into the dynamics of love and loss as one seeks a sense of belonging is moving and captivating and guided our conversation about her book.
I picked Kamali’s latest novel for Iran because I have heard a lot of Kamali who was born to Iranian parents in Turkey. She’s traveled extensively and lived in Kenya, Germany, Turkey, Iran, and the United States. Her multifaceted identity axiomatically complicates her positionality as an Iranian writer only, making The Stationery Shop the perfect novel for my project.
Initially, I was planning to change it up and post a short video as my January wrap-up–I don’t know what it is exactly (am I still resisting the Instagram reel/ TikTok book review culture, who knows?), but I felt like writing a post–so here is the first wrap-up of 2021!
Folklorn is a contemporary origin story that seamlessly weaves Korean folklore within a narrative of identity, migration, and home.
My ultimate goal here as a voracious reader is to delve right into the literary scene(s) and spaces created by Asian writers–which I’ve been missing out on all these years. Eventually, I’d like to complete a “World Bookshelf Challenge” at the end of which I will have read at least one contemporary text from each country around the world, but let’s see how this particular reading list goes.