Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In the Land of Invisible Women (O. T. # 5 of 10)

I am not sure how to review this book...I didn't really like it but I didn't really
dislike it. It took me a while to is a pretty decent size. And the subject matter was interesting - it is a memoir written by Qanta A. Ahmed, a British Palestinian female doctor living and practicing medicine in Saudi Arabia. She had some amazing stories. Stories about her patients, about her experience when she undertook a Hajj to Mecca, her relationships with other doctors and patients, the terrifying power of the Muttawa (the religious police). All very cool.

I think what sort of took away from the power of the book for me were her super involved descriptions of the looks, clothing, and accessories of pretty much every person she met. Details down to the brand of wrist watch he or she was wearing. She spent much time extolling the beauty of different women she encountered. Not that this is a bad thing...but so much of what she did was important and powerful that these passages become rather boring to me. I wanted to know more about what she did than what people looked like.

It was interesting to read a book by a Muslim woman who is incredibly religious and yet incredibly tolerant. Her frustration with having to wear the full abbayah in public, her outrage at the treatment of Saudi women, and horrified reaction to the celebration of many of her colleuges during and after the 9/11 attacks seemed very real and personal. She obviously has a very deep faith and vehemently rejects the interpretation of the Quran that led to the oppression of women and men (this was an interesting discussion) in Saudi Arabia.

So again, it's a mixed review. I think she could have taken out about 100 pages of description and had a better book. Still, I'm not sorry I read it.

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