Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum.

- Graycie Harmon

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Book Review: Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

InfidelInfidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book came to me at the right time. I have only this to say, this book was brilliant. It was so good it had me doing something I hadn't done since High school - I walked home with my nose pressed between the pages. In fact, I finished the book last evening as I walked.
It was that good.
Infidel was the first ever book by Ayaan Hirsi Ali I have ever read, and it won't be the last. I found it open, honest and often inspiring. It tackles that sticky question no one really wants to deal with for fear of how they will be perceived - Islam and the clash with rights and freedoms, especially against women.
It begins with the shocking death of Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh, a friend of Ms. Ali's. The man's throat was slit, he was shot, and then a note to Ms. Ali was pinned to his chest with a dagger. The note says, basically, "You're next."
What follows is a journey through Ms. Ali's life beginning with her home country, Somalia, her Muslim upbringing, and her inability to reconcile her faith with her questions as she grew up in various countries in Africa, some Muslim, some not.
It ends with her very strong views on Islam and the damage it does to women, and thus to societies as a whole, and her quest to bring her views to light, to shed light on the plight of many thousands of Muslim women and children and with the hope that, in some way, her work will help shape a better tomorrow for all.
I'm not going to go into too much detail about Ms. Ali's life. That's what the book is for. I will say, however, that I am filled with a deep respect and admiration for the strength, passion and compassion of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Knowing what she has faced, and how she has turned her own life around, not least of all coming to grips with a faith she could not believe in and all the guilt and grief it caused, has created for me something I never thought I'd need as an adult - a role model.
Read this book. It's an eye-opener; often depressing, but always fascinating.

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And today's Forgotten English:


A concluding piece or movement played at the end of an oratorio or the like; formed on post, and ludus, play, on analogy of prelude, interlude.
- Sir James Murray's New English Dictionary, 1909

I've never heard it used, but it's pretty easy to guess at its meaning, no?

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