Monday, February 17, 2014

Catch Up ... Yet Again!

Here I go again playing catch up with all that I have missed to report on this blog regarding all things books and otherwise. It has been busy times here in the BookFabulous household what with invitations flying left, right and centre and Mr. Fabulous having his parents over to stay, we've had our hands full. 

But true to my promise, I am continuing to read up on all things Abu Dhabi-related as per THIS POST. I am done with the list and the books have been great eye-openers. Some I enjoyed more than others and I will spread my views along various posts, but in the meantime feel free to email me any of your questions regarding any of them and I'll happily email back the answers. Or of course leave a comment and others including myself who have read the books and would like to share their views as well with you will have the chance to do just that.

But first drrrrrrrrum roll please! Today marks my 6-month anniversary landing in Abu Dhabi. I can't believe how the time has whizzed by! Ups and downs dearies but finally feeling settled in this precious city. So what have I done to mark the occasion? Had breakfast with an amazing American Abu Dhabi-based artist, treated myself to a manicure/pedicure, and cooked a lasagna! 

Anyway, enough with the blabbering and on to more blog-related matters. As you all may well know by now, The IPAF shortlist was announced last week. Personally, I am happy with the choices on that list particularly so as one of my favourites of the year 'No Knives in This City's Kitchen' by Syrian author Khaled Khalifa was picked as one of the lucky six. 

Much of the commentary after the announcement of the list was made has concentrated around the fact that the books were picked for their political references and topics. This seems unsurprising firstly because they were written in a region where politics at the moment is the 'hot topic' and cannot be avoided and I think that secondly this may be the IPAF judges' way of ensuring that the prize is not only therefore current but relevant as well. 

I believe that every political era has produced politically inspired-books and today's ever-changing, ever-evolving Middle East is no different. With political change comes social change and it is the very practical and natural response of creatives to want to step up to the plate and to reflect their interpretation of these changes through their artwork. There is no better way to understand the times we live in than through the readings of fiction. For fiction is a reflection of our reality and although in some cases it is no more than wishful thinking or a lie even, yet "writing fiction is the act of weaving a series of lies to arrive at a greater truth' as Khaled Hosseini was once quoted as saying.

It is a very strong, well-chosen IPAF shortlist, and to read more about the books, click HERE.

This week I have downloaded two books I mean to read. The first is a novel written by Abu Dhabi-based author Daniel Danser called 'The God Particle' which is published by Aventura in e-book format and is available from major online e-bookstores.  This thriller is about CERN's Hadron Collider whose sole purpose is to prove the existence of the mysterious God Particles - the essential building blocks of the universe. After the sudden death of the project's director general, Tom Halligan is headhunted by CERN's governing council to continue the search for the elusive particles. He is soon embroiled in a titanic struggle against sinister forces that are intent on creating a chain of events, the outcome of which will determine the fate of civilisation. 

The other book I've downloaded on my kindle is 'Burqas, Baseball and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America' by Ranya Tabari Idliby. This is the story of one American Muslim family - the story of how, through their lives, their schools, their friends, and their neighbours, they end up living the challenges, myths, fears, hopes, and dreams of all Americans. They are challenged by both Muslims who speak for them and by Americans who reject them. In this moving memoir, Idliby discusses not only coming to terms with what it means to be Muslim today, but how to raise and teach her children about their heritage and religious legacy. She explores life as a Muslim in a world where hostility towards Muslims runs rampant, where there is an entire industry financed and supported by think tanks, authors, film makers, and individual vigilantes whose sole purpose is to vilify and spread fear about all things Muslim. Her story is quintessentially American, a story of the struggles of assimilation and acceptance in a climate of confusion and prejudice - a story for anyone who has experienced being an "outsider" inside your own home country.

The book club I attend has just finished reading Sheryl Sandberg's book 'Lean In: Women, Work and The Will to Lead'. Sheryl Sandberg - Facebook COO and one of Fortune magazine's Most Powerful Women in Business - draws on her own experience of working in some of the world's most successful businesses and looks at what women can do to help themselves, and make the small changes in their life that can effect change on a more universal scale. 

Until next time ... keep reading!

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