Saturday, July 07, 2012

Creating Rachel by Mustafa Alrawi

Carlos Castaneda once said “The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same” and it is this realization that Mustafa Alrawi's character Mohammed in 'Creating Rachel' unintentionally stumbles upon after falling madly and hopelessly in love with Rachel, a woman who seems to have no intention of ever loving him back. Mohammed's obsession with gaining Rachel's love is his unraveling and instigates an exploration of his inner self, true character and self worth, challenging his deepest beliefs, rocking him to the very core and ultimately changing his life forever.

This is first and foremost a love story, albeit a turbulent one, between the Arab Mohammed, (a romantic, self-proclaimed 'spoilt brat', poet and self-stylized hero) and Jewish Rachel (exotic-looking, young, and damaged), who he meets in a nightclub with a quality that he is "drawn to like a child is simultaneously thrilled and terrified by a ghost story, afraid to go on but unable to stop". And so begins a relationship of sorts whereby Mohammed creates a Rachel of his dreams; a Rachel that in spite of all that she does to him remains beyond reprimand, beyond reproach and ultimately above hatred with Mohammed ultimately professing her to be his soul mate, his savior and his doom.

Mohammed is a complex troubled character who decides to write a 'diary of love' which reads like a guide book in how to love, why to love and what love can eventually lead to. It does at times feel like a self-help book in its own right (think Carlos Castaneda, Dale Carnegie) but the story soon overtakes you and this fact becomes irrelevant. The journal alternates between Mohammed actually telling us details of the relationship and then penning letters to Rachel attempting to analyze what happened between them finally letting her know how he honestly feels. Throughout the book, it is Mohammed's voice alone that we hear, his struggle, his plight and after a while the reader will begin to wonder if Mohammed is merely melodramatic and whether things even really happened like he says they did. There are no other voices/opinions other than his own and this one dimensional view of the relationship does slightly detract from the authenticity of Mohammed's story. But we do have to remind ourselves that this is Mohammed's diary after all and as such can only be the way it is. Ramblings of a love-crazed young man who is slighted, wounded and is struggling to regain some of the male pride he feels he may have lost to Rachel along the way.

'Creating Rachel' is a novel of awakenings; an awakening of the heart, an awakening of the mind and soul and a dawning realization of the relevance Arab youth have in the shaping of their future in today's post 9/11 world. Gone are the days pre- 9/11 when all that mattered to Arab youth was being rich, handsome and young. The days when all that mattered was not only where you partied but how hard you went about it. It is an awakening to the realization that some lessons in life can only be learnt the hard way and victory is for those who come out the other side battered perhaps but never beaten. The novel in its Shamanistic undertones aims to highlight the importance of acting on thoughts not just thinking about them, following dreams, letting go, making peace with the inner self and believing in the greatness of personal power.

'Creating Rachel' is Mustafa Alrawi's debut novel and is testament to a writer to be reckoned with who is fresh, exciting and very very capable with an abundance of potential. The novel is highly emotional, engaging and will resonate universally and across the board with anyone who has ever truly fallen in love. A delightful read!

About the author: (as from book sleeve)

Mustafa Alrawi is a British writer of Iraqi heritage, living in Dubai since 2004. He is a commentator, journalist, and broadcaster and his articles have been published in the Guardian, Independent, Esquire, The Jordan Times, Lebanon's Daily Star, 7Days and The National.

In 2003, he traveled to Baghdad and helped launch the first independent English-language newspaper after the fall of Saddam Hussein. He was also the host of the radio show Al Majlis on Dubai Eye 103.8.

Mustafa has written the one-act plays Out There and This Place about his experiences in the Middle East and is currently working on a series of children's stories. He is married to Rana with whom he has one son, Taimoor.

Check out the author's website HERE.

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