Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thoughts on Children of the Dust by Ali Eteraz

Children of the Dust: A Memoir of Pakistan by Ali Eteraz

I received my copy of this book from Julie Harabedian of FSB Media.

Some thoughts on the book:

I haven't gotten really far on the book but wanted to post a few thoughts on it and a full review will come at a later date.  When I started this book I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about it.  I'm still getting used to memoirs and keep expecting them to bore me (I'm a fiction-lover what can I say).  But I keep trying memoirs because I want to branch out and learn more through my reading.  This is definitely a book to do that.  I know very little about Middle Eastern culture.  In fact I got out our globe just to help me orient myself better on how exactly these countries border each other.  I also know little about Islam.

So having said all of that - the first 100 pages that I have read have been fascinating.  The style of his writing for this section which is about childhood gets me right into the mind of Ali when he was a child.  His making his way and learning about Islam from those around him, is very interesting.  I could hardly  put it down and I am looking forward to finishing the book.  Ali has an interesting life and he writes about it well.

About the Book:

Ali Eteraz's Children of Dust is a spellbinding portrayal of a life that few Americans can imagine. From his schooling in a madrassa in Pakistan to his teenage years as a Muslim American in the Bible Belt, and back to Pakistan to find a pious Muslim wife, this lyrical, penetrating saga from a brilliant new literary voice captures the heart of our universal quest for identity.

Children of Dust begins in rural Islam at the lowest levels of Pakistani society in the turbulent eighties. This intimate portrayal of rustic village life is revealed through a young boy's eyes as he discovers magic, women, and friendship.

After immigrating with his family to the United States, Eteraz struggles to be a normal American teenager under the rules of a strict Muslim household.

In 1999, he returns to Pakistan to find the villages of his youth dominated by the ideology of the Taliban, filled with young men spouting militant rhetoric, and his extended family under threat. Eteraz becomes the target of a mysterious abduction plot when he is purported to be a CIA agent, and eventually has to escape under military escort.

Back in the United States, with his fundamentalist illusions now shattered, Eteraz tries to find a middle way within American Islam. At each stage of Eteraz's life, he takes on a different identity to signal his evolution. From being pledged to Islam in Mecca as an infant, through Salafi fundamentalism, to liberal reformer, Eteraz desperately struggles to come to terms with being a Pakistani and a Muslim.

Astonishingly honest, darkly comic, and beautifully told, Children of Dust is an extraordinary adventure that reveals the diversity of Islamic beliefs, the vastness of the Pakistani diaspora, and the very human search for home.


Sue Jackson said...

I appreciate the thoughts. I didn't have time to review this one but thought it sounded very good. I love memoirs! Can't wait to read your full review.


Diane said...

I have not had a chance to read this one, but I have read some great reviews. ENJOY

fredamans said...

I'm happy you're enjoying it. I read and reviewed it, and absolutely loved it!

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