Sunday, August 28, 2011

Children of Dust, by Ali Eteraz

Ali Eteraz, Children of Dust. New York: Harper One, 2009. hard cover, 337 pps.

Ali Eteraz was born Abir ul Islam in a small village in Pakistan. He built his identity around having been promised to serve Islam. He attended madrassa and was beaten. Beatings were routine during lessons if a boy made too many mistakes in his recitation of a portion of the Koran which was set for his memorization that day. And sometimes for other things.

He migrated to the United States with his family, finally settling in the Bible Belt. Abir then became Amir. The young Amir experimented with sex and the secular, then settling into a routine of super-Islam-dude. His idealized self fell short when presented with the responsibility of running a student Muslim organization in college.

He became a lawyer, lost his practice, reinvented himself as Ali Eteraz and went to Kuwait to seek converts to his idea of Islamic reform. A friend enlightens him. He returns to the United States.

This book was not as satisfying to me as A Thousand Splendid Suns was, but still good and worth reading. Ali's name changes seemed to be a bit more than the reinvention of his self. To me there were whispers of fragmented selves rather than an integrated personality. I may be wrong about that. That is the impression the book left with me.

sapphoq reviews says: recommended to those who are curious about life in a small Pakistani village.

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