Points of View

Persepolis book coverUnderstanding and examining Islamic culture through memoirs and fictional works can bring a new awareness of our shared values and difficulties, as well as our shared successes.

The readings include:

  • In the Country of Men: A Novel by Hisham Matar
  • Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  • House of Stone: a Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East by Anthony Shadid
  • Broken Verses: a Novel by Kamila Shamsie
  • Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood by Fatima Mernissi

A series developed by Deborah Amos as part of the Muslim Journeys project.

Points of View

A Let’s Talk About It series

Developed by Deborah Amos as part of the Muslim Journeys Project

The most recognized narratives of the Islamic world often come to Westerners in the daily news. The drama of conflict, chaos, and war abruptly arrives in the morning newscast or paper along with the toast and coffee. But the “news” gives us scant details about how people live their lives in Islamabad, Fez, Cairo, or Tehran. The human experience—loves, losses, births, deaths—is the currency of the novel, the memoir, the personal history. These stories can provide the riveting and recognizable details of falling in love, coming of age, navigating irreconcilable loss, or making difficult choices.

Understanding and examining Islamic culture through memoirs and fictional works can bring a new awareness of our shared values and difficulties, as well as our shared successes. Islam as a religion often fits into these stories’ plots in the way that a local church community might play a role in an American work of fiction.

The five narratives in “Points of View” are a diverse sampling across geography, time, and culture. The voices they feature are not only those of Muslims, but also non-Muslims reflecting on the experience of living in Muslim-majority societies in all their diversity. Although in no way an exhaustive collection, these books—like Muslim-majority societies—do not offer one story, but tell many stories and represent some of the best in contemporary storytelling.