Other Lands, faiths & cultures

What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife, A Memoir by David Harris-Gershon. In 2002, Jamie Harris Gershon was seriously injured when a bomb exploded at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She suffered burns over 30% of her body, and the two friends with whom she was sitting were killed. The first half of this book explores the physical wounds that healed and the psychic wounds that did not. The catalyst for the journey to reconciliation was the author’s discovery that the man responsible for planting the bomb in the cafeteria was the only member of his Hamas cell to express remorse to his Israeli interrogators. The terrorist had a name. He is, Harris-Gershon realizes, a human being. This leads to a re-examination of the historical narrative he had been taught and to considering for the first time the Palestinian narrative as well. Ironically, he came to re-think Palestinian humanity because he was directly affected by Palestinian terror.

 

A HOPE MORE POWERFUL THAN THE SEA One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss and Survival by Melissa Fleming. This is not just the tale of the pain of one refugee, Doaa Al Zamel, who chose to leave Syria; at its heart it is the story of persistence, altruism, resilience and hope. On every page, the human toll of the worst humanitarian crisis of our time is heartbreakingly brought home. A story of two survivors.

 PADDLING TO WHERE I STAND by Agnes Alfred, Qwiqwasutinuxw Noblewoman  is more than another anthropological interpretation of Kwakwaka'wakw culture. It is the first-hand account, by a woman, of the greatest period of change she and her people experienced since first contact with Europeans, and her memoirs flow from her urgently felt desire to pass on her knowledge to younger generations. Agnes Alfred documents through myths, historical accounts, and personal reminiscences the foundations and the enduring pulse of her culture.

KEEPERS OF THE EARTH: NATIVE AMERICAN STORIES contains 24 traditional Native North American stories retold by Joseph Bruchac. These stories come from Inuit, Abenaki, Dine, Onondaga, Nisqually, Muskogee, Pawnee, Zuni, Ojibway, Lakota, Siksika, Tsimshian, and Seneca Nations. Native stories have two major functions: to entertain and to teach. This collection is designed around the theme of environmental responsibility and includes narratives about Creation, Fire, Earth, Wind and Weather, Water, Sky, Seasons, Plants and Animals, Life, Death, Spirit, and the Unity of the Earth. Joseph Bruchac is a well-known Abenaki storyteller and writer.

"There are degrees of loneliness," Deogratias, a young medical student from the mountains of Burundi, told Tracy Kidder in one of many conversations that led to Kidder's STRENGTH IN WHAT REMAINS: A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness . "The worst…was to be a poor person oppressed by diseases." In 1994 Deo arrived in New York with $200 and no English, sick, half-starved, and traumatized by his months on the run from the Hutu militia. Nearly as staggering as the horrors Deo witnessed were the frequency and ferocity of those who came to his rescue: the Hutu woman in the banana grove who dragged him toward Rwanda when he believed he could go no further; the JFK baggage handler who took him to a squatters' tenement and taught him to ride the subway;  the former nun who dedicated herself to Deo's health and safety; the lawyer  who fought for Deo's green card; and  the academic and his artist wife who sent Deo to Columbia University and gave him a place to call home. Most remarkable of all is Deo himself, who rose from the ashes of genocide to realize his teenage dream of building a public health clinic in rural Burundi, helping to heal a village, to reconcile a people, and find flickers of peace within himself. Strength in What Remains. Returning Home to Burundi

 

THE JEW IS NOT MY ENEMY Unveiling the Myths That Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism by Tarek Fatah. A liberal Muslim, Fatah explores the historical, political, and theological basis for centuries of Muslim animosity towards Jews, debunking long-held myths and tracing a history of hate and its impact today. He argues that hating Jews is against the essence of the Islamic spirit and suggests what needs to be done to eliminate the agonizing friction between the two communities.

ISLAM AND THE FUTURE OF TOLERANCE A Dialogue by  Sam Harris and Maajid Hawaz.  Can an American atheist who has said that “the West is at war with Islam” and a secular, former Islamist Muslim find common ground?  This book might be helpful to anyone who is trying to understand the tensions between the religious and secular communities, especially concerning the nature and role of Islam in the world. It is short but covers a lot of  ground as an articulate discussion between two spokespersons for their constituencies.  

INDIAN HORSE  is a difficult and beautiful novel by Canadian Ojibway writer Richard Wagamese.  Saul Indian Horse, a former hockey star undergoing treatment for alcoholism, chronicles his life story as a way of identifying the foundation of his addiction.  Wagamese has created a rich and nuanced portrayal of a grief that is hard to give voice to, because the pain was part of an intergenerational inheritance— Indian Residential Schools.

LEFT TO TELL: Discovering God Amidst the Rawandan Holocaust by Immaculée Ilibagiza. The author grew up in a country she loved, surrounded by a family she cherished. But in 1994 her idyllic world was ripped apart as Rwanda descended into a bloody genocide. Immaculee's family was brutally murdered during a killing spree that lasted three months and claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans.  But mmore than just a chronicling of atrocities, Immaculée Ilibagiza tale is also a testament to inner fortitude, faith, and the power to forgive.

STANDING ALONE IN MECCA An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam by Asra Q. Nomani. Throughout this book we see Nomani filled with self-doubt and healthy frustration with her Islamic faith. When she dares to enter the men's door at the mosque, Nomani is ostracized, and her father—a founder of the mosque – is condemned by his counterparts. Nomani decries the Wahhabi takeover of American mosques and demands reform.  Standing Alone  is interesting mostly as a personal narrative, chronicling the author’s journey more so than exploring the scholarly concepts of Islam.

AMONG THE BELIEVERS AN ISLAMIC JOURNEY by V.s. Naipaul.  This book  is the chronicle of a seven-month journey Naipaul made in 1979 and 1980 to Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia in search of Islam.   This book was written in 1980, just after Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution in Iran and is written from a very particular point of view.

THE COMMON HEART: AN EXPERIENCE OF INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE ed. Netanel Miles-Yepez.  For twenty years, a group of spiritual seekers from many religious traditions met in various places around the U.S. to engage in interreligious dialogue. When these encounters came to an end, it was agreed that reflections on what had happened emotionally, spiritually, philosophically, and theologically during the dialogues should be written down. The result is The Common Heart. Here is an exploration of the wealth of the world's spiritual traditions combined with conversations from the heart. 

THE WEIGHT OF A MUSTARD SEED The Intimate Life of an Iraqi Family during Thirty Years of Tyranny  by Wendell Steavenson.  f you can't protect yourself from a tyrant, how can you protect your family? And how does a proud man live with the knowledge that he can't? This is the story of one family's struggle to survive the iniquities of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. In "The Weight of a Mustard Seed", Wendell Steavenson tells the story of Kamel Sachet and those closest to him  during Saddam's four wars and brutal repression, the years of hard-bitten sanctions, and the anarchy of the American occupation. "The Weight of a Mustard Seed" is the story of Iraq, told from the inside out.