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Question for Muslim Moms

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hello! I hope it's okay to post this here. I am a high school teacher. There is a larger-than-average population of Muslim students at the school (many families with Turkish, Saudi Arabian, and Egyptian backgrounds). I teach English. We will be doing a genre-specific study of world lit, and I would love to include some fiction pieces that will validate my Muslim students' backgrounds (as I have already selected pieces that reflect other students' cultural heritage). The Kite Runner is on my suggested reading list as a supplemental text, but that's about as close as anything comes. I have a lot of freedom to choose my own sources. I like Layla and Majnun for Persian poetry, but otherwise I'm not sure. I'd love a modern short story, and something that could be likened to fables -- I know Arabian Nights would work, but they use that as supplemental reading in another grade so I can't use it.

If you have any ideas or maybe some suggestions about things to look for, I would love to hear them!

thanks so much--
post #2 of 8
Of course, there's Rumi and Hafiz for poetry as well.

For authors, what about Nobel prize winner Naguib Mahfouz? (Egyptian... "Cairo Trilogy.")

If you do Dante's "Divine Comedy" you can mention about how his views of hell came from Muslim theology.

Khalil Gibran is always popular.

I read a good book about a Jewish woman growing up in Cairo who left in the 1950s. It was by Colette Rossant and called "Memories of a Lost Egypt."

For Turkish authors, Yasar Kemal comes to mind.

There's a Palestinian author named Ghassan Kanafani who wrote "Men in the Sun"

For sort of a Saudi chic lit, there was a book called "Girls of Riyadh". It's not the best written book, but it would give your students an insight into the whole arranged marriages thing.

I'll see if DH has any other suggestions.
post #3 of 8
I just remembered something that might be good for you ... I flipped through it at my local library but haven't read it so I can't really comment on it, but The Anchor Book of Modern Arabic Fiction seems to cover a lot of relevant ground in translated short stories and excerpts.

It wouldn't help with branching out into Turkish or Farsi or such, obviously, but insofar as modern Arabic writing goes the authors selected are a really good array, albeit being a little heavy on Egyptian writers.
post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the suggestions -- there seems to be a nice selection of modern literature (and of course there is ancient lit as well) that I can fit into the course framework very nicely. Any more thoughts? I'd love to hear them!
post #5 of 8
Oh, not sure if you want to get into it, but there's some interesting controversy about the English translation of "Girls of Riyadh"... If you google it, I believe the translator wrote a letter to the NY Times Book Review. Could spark a discussion about translations in general... and how they can make/break a novel, etc.

I just googled it, wasn't the NY Times, but The Times of London... anyway
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Umsami I love that idea -- talking about the authenticity of the translation. It brings full circle the whole writing workshop stuff we'll be doing, about writing authentically. Perfect!
post #7 of 8
Hi there

A book written specifically for teenagers that could be really useful is "Does my head look big in this?" By Randa Abdel-Fattah. It's published by PanMacmillan in Australia (not sure who the US publisher is, but know it has been published there, as the cover is different). You can read a blurb about it here, as well as the awards it's won and some reviews:


You can read the publishers teachers notes here: http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&so..._zGs8m_ppkO6jw

I think it's an excellent books for teens!
post #8 of 8
I haven't read it, but a popular Turkish novel, "The Forty Rules of Love," has been translated into English. In part, it features the story of Rumi and his mentor, Shams, woven into a larger story about a woman in America. Apparently the book in Turkey has contributed to a new interest there in Rumi's philosophy and mysticism, so the book could be used in part to discuss the power of fiction to inspire personal or social change.
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