Infidel

Jun. 6th, 2010 02:49 am
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[personal profile] haggholm

I have been meaning to find, buy, and read Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel for quite some time, but I had never done so; in part because of my tendency to remember things exactly when I am in no position to do anything about them, and in part because I knew it would be painful to read, that it’s a first-person narrative that contains things that are at once awful, horrifying, and true.

Today I saw it in a bookshop window and immediately veered inside and bought it. I knew it would be painful and intense to read, so I figured it would be one of those rare books that I would take a long time to read, maybe even weeks. This proved not to be the case; although I had a length interruption earlier this evening, there was no way I could go to bed before I finished it (and, it seems, no way I could go to bed before telling the world about it, here).

Of course it had terrible and painful things, and parts that were difficult to read, but it was more, far more, than a tragic narrative; it was engaging, it was terrifically well written; it contained not one iota of self-pity and nary a trace of resentment, but empathy and sympathy and insight and amounts of courage that are beyond the power of superlatives to describe.

Reading it, I came across sections I wanted to quote here—painful ones, powerful ones, awe-inspiring ones, ones filled with hope—but as is the case with truly great books, there’s just too much to quote; I should have to quote half the book or feel that a section torn out of context would do terrible injustice to the book as a whole.

Read it. Find it, borrow it, buy it, whatever. Read it. Get it from amazon.com or .ca or Chapters or B&N or your local library or something, but read it.

You will cringe, you will cry,

but

READ IT.

Date: 2010-06-07 04:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] renatus.livejournal.com
Six paragraphs and I still have no idea what this book is about. 'READ IT' tells me you're really excited about it, but doesn't actually entice me to go find out (especially not when my to-read and want-to-read stacks are, combined, as high as I am tall). A thoughtful review about the actual material of the book that shows me why I should read it is what'll get me interested, if I'm going to be interested at all.

Date: 2010-06-07 04:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] petter-haggholm.livejournal.com
Thoughtful? In an excited 2:50 am post? Surely you jest…

In all seriousness, I’ve heard so much about this book that it didn’t occur to me (at least not at 2:50 am) that some people would not know what it was, rather like needing to explain to someone what Tom Sawyer is, or The Lord of the Rings, or The Mythical Man-Month…books so ubiquitously known, mentioned, or discussed in the cultures and sub-cultures whereof I am a part that introductions didn’t seem necessary. The very next morning it occurred to me that the intersection of subcultures between my friends and myself (and for that matter other incidental blog readers) might not be perfect, but I haven’t yet felt equal to writing anything like a proper review.

Short and trite summary: Memoir of eponymous Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who grew up in a Muslim Somali family, telling the story of her life (oppression and genital mutilation and arranged marriages and joys and sorrows and all), how she managed to leave that, her move to Europe, her life and opinions in immigration politics, the story of the short film Submission, part 1 and how her collaborator, film-maker Theo Van Gogh, was murdered—and so forth.

Proper entry attempting to do it at least some justice to follow after further digestion. Heaven knows how long.

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Petter Häggholm

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