Join us for the next meeting of our new reading group, Books from Banned Lands, which will read contemporary literature (in English translations) from the seven Middle Eastern and North African countries targeted by the “Muslim ban” executive order of January 2017.
After starting with Rafik Schami's Damascus Nights representing Syria, our next book, A Sky So Close by Betool Khedairi, will take us to Iraq. We'll continue with books from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia, finishing the series around the one-year anniversary of the attempted ban. This reading group comes out of a desire to do something, specifically as a bookstore, to resist the dehumanization of refugees, immigrants, Arabs, Arabic-speakers, and Muslims in the United States. All readers are welcome for any and all of the meetings!
The Books from Banned Lands reading group will meet on the third Saturday of every month at 3:00 pm, on the following schedule.
Saturday, July 29: SYRIA
Damascus Nights, by Rafik Schami
Saturday, August 19: IRAQ
A Sky So Close, by Betool Khedairi
Saturday, September 23: LIBYA
In the Country of Men, by Hisham Matar
Saturday, October 21: IRAN
Sin, by Forough Farrokhzad
Saturday, November 18: SUDAN
Season of Migration to the North, by Tayeb Salih
Saturday, December 16 (earlier for the holidays): SOMALIA
Black Mamba Boy, by Nadifa Mohamed
Saturday, January 20 (One year since the Executive Order!): YEMEN
Hurma, by Ali Al-Muqri
All books will be available in advance at the Penn Book Center.
About A Sky So Close, from Penguin Random House:
"In this elegant, incisive debut, a young girl comes of age while aching for a sense of belonging. Daughter of an Iraqi father and an English mother, the unnamed narrator struggles with isolation both in the traditional Iraqi countryside where she’s raised and at the Western school of music and ballet that her mother insists she attend. Though she finds some semblance of solace in dance, her trials increase when her family moves to Baghdad. Then comes the outbreak of war, which compels her to move with her mother to England, where her most pointed heartaches await. Gently poetic but emotionally unflinching, A Sky So Close is a daringly fresh look into the clash between East and West and into the soul of a woman formed by two cultures yet fully accepted by neither."
About Betool Khedairi:
Betool Khedairi was born in Baghdad in 1965 to an Iraqi father and a Scottish mother. After receiving her B.A. in French literature from the University of Mustansirya, she divided her time between Iraq, Jordan and the United Kingdom while working in her family’s business. She currently lives in Amman. Her first novel, A Sky So Close, is translated from Arabic into English, Italian, French and Dutch and is the subject of literary critique studies in various international universities. Ghayeb (Absent) is her second novel. The Arabic edition was published in Amman in July 2004.
New York Times review -