Tag Archives: Biographies

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Overview
I am Malala, The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the  Taliban by Malala Yousafzai | 9781780226583 | Booktopia

Title: I Am Malala
Author: Malala Yousafzai
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Feminism, Memoirs, Strong women
Dates read: 11th – 16th October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: But all this time the mufti was watching.

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Synopsis

I come from a country that was created at midnight When I almost died it was just after midday. When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan. One girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday October 9 2012 when she was fifteen. She almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school and few expected her to survive. Instead. Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen she became a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel…

Thoughts

There are just some people in the world who seem to make me feel bad for the many, many things that I don’t do. It’s not necessarily a bad thing… just a, well… thing. That feeling of guilt that accompanies the reminder that there are some seriously bad arse, tough, amazing women out in the world. And Malala Yousafzai is most certainly one of them. That’s not to say that reading I Am Malala made me feel guilty or horrible, but it served as a reminder of the awesomeness of this young woman.

The journey that Malala takes is just phenomenal. And I can’t really describe that feeling of this is really awesome that you will get whilst reading this. Not just because of what Malala has accomplished, but also the family that she’s from and her love of her people and country. Every single word in this novel speaks of humility and love. And it makes this just… phenomenal. And one of those books that is impossible to forget.

I love that this book, even though it is about Malala’s journey, is really mostly about her family. Almost every sentence is about them. And, in particular, her father. It shows you that people who create great change don’t actually do this on their own… they have a family and people around them that help them accomplish everything and anything that they put their mind to. And for Malala, that driving factor is her father. And, considering the culture in which they both come from… that is somehow all that much more phenomenal.

This is one of those books that I think everyone needs to read. It is phenomenal and powerful. Unforgettable and a seriously intense and glorious journey. This is just one of those novels and lives that I will remember anytime I’m feeling negative, pessimistic or like a downright bore.

<- Falling LeavesMao’s Last Dancer ->

Image source: Booktopia

Truganini by Cassandra Pybus

Overview
Truganini - Cassandra Pybus - 9781760529222 - Allen & Unwin ...

Title: Truganini: Journey Through the Apocalypse
Author: Cassandra Pybus
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Biographies, History, Indigenous Australians
Dates read: 2nd – 20th July 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Year: 2020
5th sentence, 74th page: She was grieving the loss of their youngest son nine months earlier, and it was also time to reconnect with his five surviving children.

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Synopsis

Cassandra Pybus’ ancestors told a story of an old Aboriginal woman who would wander across their farm on Bruny Island, just off the coast of south-east Tasmania, throughout the 1850s and 1860s. As a child, Cassandra didn’t know this woman was Truganini, and that she was walking over the country of her clan, the Nuenonne, of whom she was the last.

The name of Truganini is vaguely familiar to most Australians as ‘the last of her race’. She has become an international icon for a monumental tragedy: the extinction of the original people of Tasmania within her lifetime. For nearly seven decades she lived through a psychological and cultural shift more extreme than most human imaginations could conjure. She is a hugely significant figure in Australian history and we should know about how she lived, not simply that she died. Her life was much more than a regrettable tragedy. Now Cassandra has examined the original eyewitness accounts to write Truganini’s extraordinary story.

A lively, intelligent, sensual woman, Truganini managed to survive the devastating decade of the 1820s when the clans of south-eastern Tasmania were all but extinguished. Taken away from Bruny Island in 1830, she spent five years on a journey around Tasmania, across rugged highland and through barely penetrable forests, with the self-styled missionary George Augustus Robinson, who was collecting all the surviving people to send them into exile on Flinders Island. She managed to avoid a long incarceration on Flinders Island when Robinson took her to Victoria where she was implicated in the murder of two white men. Acquitted of murder, she was returned to Tasmania where she lived for another thirty-five years. Her story is both inspiring and herat-wrenching, and it is told in full in this book for the first time.

Thoughts

This was an amazing, must-read for all Aussies. It was one though that I would read a chapter and then pick up another, happier book. There is this tragic feeling that runs all the way through. There aren’t happy moments. This doesn’t give you hope for the future. Instead, it reminds you of the many atrocities which we really should be condemned for… but it’s well-worth the read. And impossible to forget.

The whole journey in this book is somewhat heartbreaking. But the very end of it… that was just a whole other level. Particularly considering Truganini feared her body being taken for science and begged someone to bury it in the deepest water she knew… only to find out that when she passed… her body was taken and mounted in a museum. I just couldn’t believe the horror of that and the cruelty. There was just something so incomprehensible and… just… no… about the whole situation.

I’m always trying to find out as much as I can about Australian history. And for me, this was a fantastic piece of that. I knew next to nothing about the plight of Indigenous Australians in Tasmania when the settlers came. Although I still feel like I know next to nothing… I felt like there was so much more that was revealed in this novel. Alright, it probably wasn’t’ my favourite biography, Pybus has a slightly drier writing style than what I prefer. But overall, it was somewhat amazing and a great way to highlight the plight and true journey of one well-known Indigenous Australian.

I received this book at the beginning of the year. And my biggest regret? That I didn’t read it sooner. This is a book that I think all Australians should read. One that is amazing and impossible to forget. Definitely at the top of my suggestions pile…

<- More Indigenous Australians reviewsMore Australian author reviews ->

Image source: Allen & Unwin

First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung

Overview
First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers by ...

Title: First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers
Author: Loung Ung
Series: Daughter of Cambodia #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, History, Memoirs, War
Dates read: 3rd – 8th April 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Mainstream Publishing
Year: 2000
5th sentence, 74th page: Geak continues to cry.

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Synopsis

Until the age of five, Loung Ung lived in Phnom Penh, one of seven children of a high-ranking government official. She was a precocious child who loved the open city markets, fried crickets, chicken fights and being cheeky to her parents.

When Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army stormed into Phnom Penh in April 1975, Loung’s family fled their home and were eventually forced to disperse in order to survive. Loung was trained as a child soldier while her brothers and sisters were sent to labour camps. The surviving children were only finally reunited after the Vietnamese penetrated Cambodia and destroyed the Khmer Rouge. First They Killed My Father is an unforgettable book, told through the voice of the young and fearless Loung. It is a shocking and tragic tale of a girl who was determined to survive despite the odds.

Thoughts

I bought this so that I would have an author whose names started with U. I had no idea what to expect and basically no knowledge of anything to do with Cambodia, refugees and the war in the 1970s. I mean, honestly, nothing. I didn’t even know that Pol Pot was associated with all of this… even though I know the name and that he’s a bad man. So this entire journey was one of discovery and just… awe. Nothing more than total and utter awe.

Until recently, I thought that I was a person made of some incredibly strong stuff. Tough, independent and of the ability to survive an untold number of things in my life. This story (amongst others that I’ve been reading) made me realise that I’m probably not made of this kind of tough stuff. What Ung and her family went through is just completely unfathomable. It is intense, and horrifying and more than a little heartbreaking. Yet, there isn’t this sense of anger throughout the words. Which took me completely by surprise. After all, the horrors that Ung witnessed and survived as a young girl… I just don’t have the words.

Normally I like to read a biography before bed time. After all, they’re not as intense and fast-paced as many of my other novels. So they’re normally a good pick for right before bed time. This really didn’t fit that trend. The first few nights of reading this, I just read a chapter a night. But on the final night? I read all of it. In one hit. Because I just had to find out how Ung survived… and if any of her family were also able to survive.

I just don’t have the words for how amazing this novel is. It’s something that I think everyone should read. That way we don’t take our lives and livelihoods for granted so much. Or at least, that’s how this amazing journey made me feel. I can’t wait to read the next two books in this series!

<- More Loung UngLucky Child ->

Image source: Goodreads

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

Overview
Image result for long walk to freedom book cover

Title: Long Walk to Freedom
Author: Nelson Mandela
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, PoliticsRace
Dates read: 1st – 21st February 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Abacus
Year: 1994
5th sentence, 74th page: Your father’s letter mentions nothing about a brother.

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Synopsis

The riveting memoirs of the outstanding moral and political leader of our time, Long Walk to Freedom brilliantly re-creates the drama of the experiences that helped shape Nelson Mandela’s destiny. Emotive, compelling and uplifting, Long Walk to Freedom is the exhilarating story of an epic life; a story of hardship, resilience and ultimate triumph told with the clarity and eloquence of a born leader.

Thoughts

I was actually a little disappointed by this. I’m absolutely fascinated by Nelson Mandela, and I looked forward to finding out a little bit more about the man behind the power and story. I didn’t really get much of that from this story. To me, it was mostly about politics, not actually about the journey and the story of the man. Not exactly my cup of tea.

Don’t get me wrong, this entire thing was very well written. And gave fantastic insight into the challenges faced in South Africa. The political landscape, the segregation, the ways in which Mandela’s Xhosa ancestry and life was structured. Everything was so beautifully detailed and told. But I wanted to know about the people that the man loved. The people that he cared about. The emotions. You just don’t get that in this story.

Alright, I know that Mandela was a politician, so I expected this to be mostly about politics. And law. And human rights. What I didn’t expect was it to just be about this. And that’s where I was a little disappointed. Whenever someone influential is mentioned, their characteristics aren’t discussed. It’s their political acumen and knowledge that is described. I wanted to know much more about the person behind this.

This is an interesting read, and one that I would suggest to others in the future. However, it’s not really my favourite read. I got through it all because the writing was really good, but it took me a lot longer than I had expected because I just couldn’t quite sink my teeth into it…

 <- The Blind Side ReviewCobain Review ->

Image source: Brotherhood Books

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X

Overview
Image result for book cover the autobiography of malcolm x"

Title: The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Author: Malcolm X
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Politics, Race
Dates read: 3rd – 27th January 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Year: 1965
5th sentence, 74th page: Sophia could get away only a few nights a week.

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Synopsis

One of Time’s ten most important nonfiction books of the twentieth century

In the saring pages of this classic autobiography, originally published in 1964, Malcolm X, the Muslim leader, firebrand, and anti-integrationist, tells the extraordinary story of his life and the growth of the Black Muslim movement. His fascinating perspective on the lies and limitations of the American Dream, and the inherent racism in a society that denies its nonwhite citizens the opportunity to dream, gives extraordinary insight into the most urgent issues of our own time. The Autobiography of Malcolm X stands as the definitive statement of a movement and a man whose work was never completed but whose message is timeless. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand America.

Thoughts

This is probably the single most intense book that I’ve ever read. Like I just sat there in shock not just after I finished it, but at multiple points throughout. It is intense, confronting and impossible to put down. It will also make you feel ridiculously uncomfortable. But I would still recommend that everyone read it. Even, if, like me, you’re not an American. And I’ve been talking the ear off of my poor family and friends telling them about how amazing this biography actually is.

I’ve been really interested in stories about race and discrimination, particularly over the past year. I desperately want to broaden my knowledge of this topic, and I’m slowly doing so. Actually, the past two years I’ve just been obsessed with memoirs and biographies, so this kind of falls under the topic. The Autobiography of Malcolm X is the most angry biography I’ve ever read. And I don’t say that in a bad way. It is unapologetically honest, completely forthright and doesn’t politely sugar coat the atrocities that the black man in America has had to face. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the language and words used made me feel seriously uncomfortable, but I kind of think that that’s the point… where would we be if everyone just wrote something that would make others feel comfortable?

I’m not overly interested in the politics of America, I try to focus a little more on our own home politics here… however, it is good to get a brief understanding. After all, we are still tied to them. This book gave me a far more in depth insight into these politics than I was expecting. I’m glad that I’ve read a few other books before this which touch upon the subject, and even watched some movies. Because this was seriously confronting. And it made me stop and think repeatedly about our own Indigenous peoples who are constantly facing similar issues of racism.

This is a life changing book. It is one that I will constantly think about and has seriously made me sit back and think. I’m completely floored by the experiences that Malcolm outlines in his book. And, since it is written from his own words and not sugar coated, somehow, everything that I was vaguely aware of is far more real and intense. I had to reach for a happy, innocent book when this was finished…

 <- The Jane Austen Writers’ Club ReviewChinese Cinderella Review ->

Image source: Amazon

Born to Run by Cathy Freeman

Overview
Image result for book cover born to run cathy freeman

Title: Born to Run
Author: Cathy Freeman
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Australian authorsBiographies, Indigenous Australians, Inspiration, Sport
Dates read: 20th – 22nd November 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Puffin Books
Year: 2007
5th sentence, 74th page: We pressed them together to signify that we were blood brother and sister forever.

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Synopsis

Hi guys,

Ever since I was little I only had one dream – to win a gold medal at the Olympics.

When I was twenty-seven years old, my dream came true. I’ll never forget that night at the Sydney 2000 Games – as I crossed the finish line, it was as if the whole of Australia was cheering for me.

Sometimes I still wonder how it happened. When I was growing up, I felt no different to anyone else. I lvoed having fun with my brothers, sleeping over at Nanna’s and going horse riding with my dad. But I especially loved to run. With the help of my family, coaches and teachers, I became the best female 400-metre runner in the world.

I hope you enjoy my story, and that it inspires you to chase after your dreams, too!

❤ Cathy

Thoughts

I remember watching the Sydney 2000 Olympics as a kid. Remember watching Cathy Freeman light the torch, remember when she won her golds. Although I didn’t understand what the “big fuss” was, I did feel that same national pride as everyone else. What I had never realised was that she wrote a biography seven years later. I only discovered this because I happened to be looking for a book written by a female athlete. And I’m really glad that I did…

This is one of the easiest biographies I think I’ve ever read. It is open, honest and fun. there isn’t a lot of detail throughout the pages, but rather, an outlining of each piece of information as you progress through the years of her life. And it was a far more interesting journey than I was kind of imagining. Freeman not only talks about her love of running and freedom, but she also discusses her thankfulness for her family and the support that she’s received.

Not only is this an inspiring story – it’s also one that is very much about family. There is not a chapter in the novel that doesn’t mention her mother and step-father, father and siblings. Anne-Marie her deceased sister is specifically talked about throughout. It’s not just about the journey and the hard work that Cathy Freeman had to put in to her passions to get to the Olympics. It’s also about the fun, the family and the journey. Something that I can’t forget and will definitely flick through again when I need a reminder that YOU CAN DO THIS!

My biggest regret with this story is the fact that I didn’t know about it until recently. This would have been a phenomenal book to read when I was younger. This is a good insight into a very well known Indigenous Australian and some of the hurdles that she had to overcome because of Australia’s racism.

 <- The Diary of a Young Girl ReviewAn Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth Review ->

Image source: Penguin Books Australia

The Last Rhinos by Lawrence Anthony

Overview
Image result for the last rhinos book cover

Title: The Last Rhinos
Author: Lawrence Anthony
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Conservation, Non-fiction
Dates read: 16th June – 26th September 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: PAN
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: In some areas all you could see were the splintered stumps of once-massive jungle trees.

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Synopsis

Lawrence Anthony has been described as ‘the Indiana Jones of conservation’. His South African game reserve is home to many animals he has saved, from a remarkable herd of elephants to a badly behaved bushbaby called George. When he learned that there was only a handful of northern white rhinos left in the wild, living in an area of the Congo controlled by the infamous Lord’s Resistance Army, he was determined to save them from extinction.

What followed was an extraordinary adventure, as Lawrence headed into the jungle to ask the rebels to help protect the rhino. He was also battling to keep his own animals alive during a terrible drought and to save the eyesight of his elephant matriarch Nana. The Last Rhinos is peopled with unforgettable characters, both human and animal, and is a sometimes funny, sometimes moving, always exciting read.

Thoughts

I haven’t read this book for a while. But lately, I’ve needed the inspiration and the motivation to remind me what it is about conservation that I’m passionate about. There is just something about Lawrence Anthony’s adventures and dedication that are completely awe inspiring. Unforgettable and smakes you realise that you are just a small dot in the fabric of the world. Which sounds horrible, but I kind of love… it’s nice to know that your decisions and life isn’t going to change the fate of the world, and that you are something small in a greater reality.

I would do a lot to save animals and take care of the environment… but I really don’t know that I would take on one of the most dangerous and infamous armies in the modern world – the LRA. The intensity of Lawrence’s relationships with these men and his part in their attempts at brokering peace are overwhelming, awe-inspiring and a great read late at night. After all, very few people would have the confidence and gumption to actually do such a thing to take care of another species…

The Last Rhinos is a bit slow to begin with. It discusses a lot of politics, difficulties and barriers to the conservation agenda. Money, politics and bureaucracy are always getting in the way, it doesn’t matter which aspect of life we’re dealing with. But when these barriers occur against an innocent rhino, it’s incredibly frustrating. Which comes through amazingly in this novel. We should all start finding a way to unite and stop arguing against the minutiae… otherwise we will lose all of our beautiful wildlife… the Last Rhinos just being a warning for future Armageddon.

Not only do Anthony’s words carry a potency that many other conservation tales don’t. primarily because his raw honesty and inability to hear the word no… but his little anecdotes about life on Zula Zula fill the gaps. They bring to life a reality in South Africa would otherwise be completely removed from our reality. This is a must have novel for anybody who loves nature, the environment and a damn good story.

 <- The Elephant Whisperer ReviewLife on Air Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis

Overview
Image result for scar tissue book cover

Title: Scar Tissue
Author: Anthony Kiedis
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Memoirs, Music
Dates read: 18th – 25th June 2019
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Sphere
Year: 2004
5th sentence, 74th page: So as far as they’re concerned, you and I are best friends, and we work on school stuff together, and that’s it.

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Synopsis

In 1983 four self-described ‘knuckleheads’ burst out of the neo-punk rock scene in LA with their own unique brand of cosmic hard-core mayhem funk. Over twenty years later, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, against all the odds, have become one of the most successful bands in the world. Though the band has gone through many incarnations, Anthony Kiedis, the group’s lyricist and dynamic lead singer, has been there for the whole rollercoaster ride.

Scar Tissue is Kiedis’s searingly honest memoir – a story of dedication and debauchery, of intrigue and integrity, of recklessness and redemption. It is a story that could only have come out of Hollywood.

Thoughts

I read this for the first time about ten years ago. And I was completely blown away. Rereading this as an adult my mind was still completely blown. But I also felt really quite uncomfortable by the stories that Kiedis was imparting. I just can’t fathom a childhood and life such as his. Which of course made it all the more enthralling to read…

Red Hot Chili Peppers is one of those bands that I’ve always loved and will continually return to (no matter how my tastes change). Which meant that reading about the story behind their creation and beginning was absolutely amazing. The fascinating journey that they took and the struggles that were faced are completely beyond anything that I could ever imagine. The amazing insight provided into a world that I had previously known nothing about also made this book nigh on impossible to put down.

I read a lot of good fantasy and fiction books. After all, it’s easy to be swept away in a world that is just not your own. And, although I love biographies, I don’t tend to pick them up as readily. I find that the author has to be very good to sweep me away into their world. After all, I already live in this world, and it can make the stories a little boring if not written well. Luckily, and maybe not surprisingly, Anthony Kiedis is an amazing writer. He foreshadows and builds suspense. Transports you in a way that makes you feel like you’re actually there. And, probably most importantly, makes all of the insanity and bad things that have happened to him, seem like no big deal. It doesn’t have a depressive feeling to it. But one of hope and wonder.

 <- An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth ReviewYami Review ->
Image source: Wikipedia

In the Shadow of Man by Jane Goodall

Overview
Image result for in the shadow of man book cover

Title: In the Shadow of Man
Author: Jane Goodall
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Conservation, Non-fiction
Dates read: 13th May – 6th June 2019
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Mariner
Year: 1971
5th sentence, 74th page: Christmas that year at the Gombe Stream was a day to remember.

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Synopsis

World-renowned primatologist, conservationist, and humanitarian Dr. Jane Goodall’s account of her life among the wild chimpanzees of Gombe is one of the most enthralling stories of animal behavior ever written. Her adventure began when the famous anthropologist Dr. Louis Leakey suggested that a long-term study of chimpanzees in the wild might shed light on the behavior of our closest living relatives in the animal kingdom. Accompanied by only her mother and her African assistants, she set up camp in teh remote Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve in Tanzania.

For months the project seemed hopeless; out in the forest from dawn until dark, she had but fleeting glimpses of frightened animals. But gradually she won their trust and was able to record previously unknown behavior, such as the use – and even the amking – of tools, until then believed to be a skill exclusive to humans. As she came to know the chimps as individuals, she began to understand their complicated social hierarchy and observed many extraordinary behaviors, forever changing our understanding of the profound connection between humans and chimpanzees.

Thoughts

I’ve always wanted to read a book by Jane Goodall but I just never seem to quite get around to it…. until now. And now I’m mostly just annoyed that it took me this long and I have to wait until next pay day to buy any of her other books. Not only was it impossible not to fall in love with Flo and Fifi and all of the other characters in Jane’s chimpanzee family, but it was so inspiring. Conservation studies and the sciences may have changed a lot since the founding of Gombe Research Station, but our passions and slightly unorthodox approaches to what fascinates us kind of remain the same… it gives you hope.

One of my favourite aspects to this novel is that each chapter deals with a different aspect of chimp (and human) behaviour and interaction. In each mini story, a span of years of observations is covered. It ties everything in beautifully so that you can really gain an insight and understanding into this unique group of animals and individuals. That is of course, aside from the first few chapters which provide a storyline for the start of Jane’s career and how she found herself in such an amazing opportunity.

Normally I like to read biographies and non-fiction books before bed. They’re an easy read that is interesting, but also simple to put down. Not so much with this book. There was something about the extra relatability of chimpanzees and Jane’s journey with them that made it stupidly difficult to put this novel down. Like ridiculously difficult… I stayed up WAY too late reading this. And had quite a few sleepless nights… but it was totally worth it!

 <- Hope for Animals and Their World ReviewJames and Other Apes Review ->
Image source: Jane Goodall’s Good For All News

Laughing All the Way to the Mosque by Zarqa Nawaz

Overview
Image result for laughing all the way to the mosque book cover

Title: Laughing All the Way to the Mosque
Author: Zarqa Nawaz
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Comedy, Memoirs, Muslims
Dates read: 21st April – 7th May 2019
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Publisher: Virago
Year: 2014
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘Too late,’ said Dr McMaster.

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Synopsis

Being a practising Muslim in a Western society is sometimes challenging, sometimes rewarding and sometimes downright absurd. How do you explain why Eid never falls on the same date each year; why it is that Halal butchers also sell teapots and alarm clocks. How do you make clear to the plumber that it’s essential the toilet is installed within sitting-arm’s reach of the tap?

Zarqa Nawaz has seen and done it all.

And it’s not always easy to get things right with the community either: Zarqa tells of being asked to leave the DBW (Dead Body Washing) committee after making inappropriate remarks; of undertaking the momentous trip to Mecca with her husband, without the children, thinking (most incorrectly) that it will also be a nice time to have uninterrupted sex; of doing the unthinkable and creating Little Mosque on the Prairie, a successful TV sitcom about htat very (horrified, then proud) community.

You have to laugh.

Thoughts

I’ve not really read much about Muslim culture and religion. I’ve really only recently started to delve into the world of non-fictional books. It’s an area that is absolutely fascinating and I can’t wait to continue to find more and more stories like this. Especially written as well as this novel. Nawaz is brutally honest about her life and her religion, but tempers everything that could feel quite serious with a lot of humour. I was constantly laughing out loud throughout this story. And at the end of every long day, I couldn’t wait to pick it back up again.

Most of the biographies that I’ve read lately follow a very linear storyline. They’re the kind of tales which work in a very obvious and understandable manner. They’re not jumpy, and they tend to cover a smaller span of years. Laughing All the Way to the Mosque was completely different. Each chapter was a whole new adventure. Which made the storyline overall incredibly jumpy. Actually it almost worked as a series of short stories together, rather than one big, long journey.

Zarqa Nawaz not only sweeps you away with her humour and wit. But, she also helps to conceptualise and help you to understand the ways in which a coloured, Muslim woman sometimes struggles to fit into contemporary Canada. I may be from Australia, but I imagine that many people are in the same situation. This insight provided a great way in which to understand just how difficult life can be from someone who is a minority. And just how funny some of the gaffs made when you are trying to marry different world views together and fit into the society that you call your own…

 <- The Radium Girls ReviewThe Fish Ladder Review ->
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