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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Up really late (or is that early?) because I couldn't stop reading. ^_^ 
8th-Jan-2006 02:00 am
And I ain't ready to hit the sack quite yet! Oh no! XD

Sometimes reading is like mainlining caffeine...

This was my Zooba selection for the month. Thank goodness it was quite good:

X, Sulayman. Bilal's Bread. Los Angeles: Alyson, 2005.
Summary: Bilal, youngest son of a Kurdish Muslim family of refugees from Iraq, has a brother who has been physically and sexually abusing him since he was nine. Amidst growing and reciprocated feelings of love and desire for the Imam's son, things escalate until Salim crosses the line for the last time and is arrested for child abuse. In he wake of this turbulence, the Abu family's ugly past comes out--seems Salim had been having sex with men and boys back in Iraq too, and his indiscretions got his father, already wanted by the government for formenting an independence movement, arrested and killed. Bilal comes out during a school poetry contest and wins a measure of acceptance from his community.
Comments: Well, I did Jewish-and-homosexual this week, so I figured I might as well do the flip side of the coin with a Muslim-and-homosexual novel, as well. Actually, this is the only example of the latter that I know of, so there wasn't much choice--but despite the publisher's reputation for putting out *coughs* printed material best-suited for birdcage lining, this novel did not disappoint. Though at times almost unbelievable in its characters' sappily romantic declarations (as well as surprisingly sexy, given the circumstances surrounding most of the sex), the writing was practically clinical in its explications of character behavior. Salim is poster boy child abuser; Bilal poster boy victim. His family, persumably, representative of traditional Muslim thinking and Middle Eastern coping mechanisms for these crimes. (Are men who sodomize their little brothers for sexual release really that common? Manohman... >_< ) The Imam and his family as progressive (100% American) Muslims. The novel negotiates intersecting oppressions reasonably well, though it has nothing new to add. I find it interesting that ultimately it was the same crime--the secret police caught Salim and his buddy Jafar raping a boy in an alleyway back in Iraq and then recognized him as the son of a rebel--that was the family's downfall. Twice. Heavy vibes from the English film Get Real re: Bilal coming out in front of his entire school. Oh, and kudos to the author for that first chapter. Pubic hair shaving? Who woulda thunk it? It draws you right in and maintains a nice, strong hold.
Notes: hardcover, exclusive BCE; trade paperback edition available
Rating: 7/10 - A solid enough story of overcoming abuse and coming out, but you can bet that the Muslim-American backdrop definitely adds that special something.
30th-Jan-2006 09:11 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
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