“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.”
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.
“…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.
“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.”
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.
“When I’m writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness. I’m trying for that. But I’m also trying for the language.”