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Book Review

by Rayyan Al-Shawaf

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Rayyan Al-Shawaf is a writer and book critic based in Beirut and Brummana, Lebanon. His book reviews have appeared in such North American newspapers as The Boston Globe, Charlotte Observer, Chicago Reader, Chicago Sun-Times, Christian Science Monitor, (Toronto) Globe and Mail, Miami Herald,...

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In his new novel, Paul Auster manages to conjoin gimmickry and genius, as readers find their perspective radically altered by a detail unveiled at the end.

Posted on Feb 27, 2017



The Return

“When Qaddafi took my father,” Hisham Matar writes in the long-awaited nonfiction account of his father’s disappearance, “he placed me in a space not much bigger than the cell Father was in. I paced back and forth, anger in one direction, hatred in the other, until I could feel my insides grow small and hard.”

Posted on Oct 14, 2016



Their Promised Land

Were Ian Buruma not an acclaimed historian, this book would probably never have been published. Yet the story of his grandparents, which spans both world wars, is full of resonance for contemporary Europe’s struggle with mass immigration and national identity.

Posted on Jun 10, 2016



At Home in Exile, an Ode to the Richness of Jewish Diaspora Life

In his new book, Alan Wolfe presents his view that Jewish universalism is rooted in “the passion for justice that so moved the Hebrew prophets.”

Posted on May 1, 2015



Overreach

A new book is arguably the best account of what went wrong with the project to turn Baathist Iraq into a liberal democracy, but flawed by the insistence that failure was inevitable due to Iraq’s sociopolitical realities.

Posted on Jan 9, 2015



Dalkey Archive Press

The House With a Sunken Courtyard

The narrator of this Korean novel recalls the year that his family spent living alongside four other struggling families in the cramped quarters of a formerly grand old house in the wake of the Korean War.

Posted on Jan 3, 2014



AP/Mustafa Quraishi

Pink Sari Revolution

This is the story of India’s Pink Gang, a grass-roots movement that confronts Indian officialdom over the rights of the poor and the marginalized, especially women.

Posted on Aug 16, 2013



The Second Arab Awakening

Adeed Dawisha’s new book examines why democracy has historically failed to take hold in the Middle East, and contemplates the current and future role of Islamists.

Posted on Apr 11, 2013



Dreams of His Father

In “Stranger to History,” a memoir recounting Aatish Taseer’s travels through several predominantly Muslim countries, Pakistan emerges much worse after an attempt to “fix” it, a project that also eventually leads to the killing of the author’s father.

Posted on Dec 5, 2012



Surviving History

What would it be like to discover Anne Frank, that most beloved and celebrated victim of the Holocaust, living in your attic?

Posted on Mar 2, 2012



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