Let's Talk About It: Muslim Journeys

In the Country of Men book cover
Persepolis book cover
House of Stone book cover
Broken Verses book cover
Dreams of Trespass book cover
Let's Talk About It: Muslim Journeys logo

This special book discussion series brings readers together with Portland State University Professor Kimberley Brown to explore five memoirs and novels selected by National Public Radio international correspondent Deborah Amos around the theme, "Points of View." We'll encounter individual experiences in Muslim-majority societies representing a diverse geography and some of the best contemporary storytelling. Participants are expected to attend all five discussions between October 2013 and April 2014. Books and discussion materials will be provided. After registering, pick up your copy of In the Country of Men in Central Library's Popular Library. To have a copy sent to your local library for pickup, please contact Lee Catalano (leec@multcolib.org or 503.988.5728). Copies of the subsequent books will be distributed at the end of each discussion.

  • October 14, 2013: In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar captures life in Libya in the wake of Muammar al-Qaddafi's revolution. Through the eyes of a 9-year-old boy named Suleiman, we watch a family struggle for survival in a climate of deadly political suspicion. The author tells a gripping and shocking tale of fiction that, nonetheless, illuminates the a real national nightmare.
  • November 18, 2013: Persepolis: A Story of a Childhood is a graphic memoir by Marjane Satrapi. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages 6 to 14, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. Marjane's child's-eye-view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family.
  • January 13, 2014: House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family and a Lost Middle East by Anthony Shadid begins in 2006, when Shadid, an Arab-American journalist raised in Oklahoma, learned that an Israeli rocket crashed into the house his great-grandfather built, his family's ancestral home. Seeking renewal, he set out to rebuild the house in the town his family had helped settle long ago. The reconstruction process restores Shadid, along with the house, and he finds that his understanding of the Middle East, which he had known chiefly in wartime, is deepened by his immersion in small-town life.
  • February 24, 2014: Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie tells the fictional story of Aasmaani, daughter of famous Pakistani activist Samina Akram. Fourteen years ago, Samina disappeared. Two years earlier, her lover, Pakistan's greatest poet, was beaten to death by government thugs. In present-day Karachi, Aasmaani has just discovered a letter in the couple's private code -- a letter that could only have been written recently. Soon Aasmaani receives more letters. What do they mean? Where have they come from?
  • April 7, 2014: Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood by Fatima Mernissi weaves the author's own memories with the dreams and memories of the women who surrounded her in the 1940s Moroccan courtyard of her youth -- women who, deprived of access to the world outside, recreated it from sheer imagination.

Kimberley A. Brown is a professor of Applied Linguistics and International Studies at Portland State University. She has a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in Second Languages and Cultures Education, and specializes in language and culture, World Englishes, food in globalization, and how to be interculturally competent. She lived in Iran between 1978-1980, experiencing first hand the revolution overthrowing the Shah, the U.S. hostage crisis, and the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War.

Let's Talk About It: Muslim Journeys, a reading and discussion series, has been made possible through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in cooperation with the American Library Association. Local support provided by The National Endowment for the Humanities Fund of The Library Foundation.