so i picked up this book in the most unexpected of places...my local library! i was looking at some diaspora literature and the foreign name caught my interest as i think some ppl recommended her books here before, but when i looked at the cover i almost dropped it! imagine my surprise at seeing a hijabi! well that was enough for me to check it out.
basically the story is about an unusual friendship between an old danish beekeeper and a young girl who is a muslim afghan widow refugee. the story was well-written and engaging, however i found myself extremely disappointed with the stereotypes throughout the book. first the taliban and afghanistan is represented as backwards and evil incarnate in every respect --they kill indiscriminately, torture, are against women's rights in every way, blah blah blah, any horrible and wack thing they're it. secondly, all the 'good muslims' in the book are the non-practicing ones. they drink, they smoke, they work at businesses with pork, they don't wear hijab AND all the practicing ones -- they have multiple wives, don't work and live off welfare, hate non-muslims, hate their country, etc etc. guess this is a european thing that they think all immigrants are living on welfare etc??? the women who wear hijab (btw the protagonist doesn't bc she wants to be able to fit in) either wear it because they always did or because of cultural reasons, and they're evil and judgemental too. sigh. (will there ever be a book with a modern religious feminist hijabi!)
the one good point is that it was interesting for me to read and understand what the european muslim is going through. european nations truly want muslims to integrate in every way. dress, lifestyle, language, habits, etc. (just look at the swiss minaret ban?! and this is a country that calls themselves the epitome of human rights and civilization!) it's really pathetic. it must be because they are old and mostly homogeneous nations cuz i don't get where this mentality comes from.
the US is a younger country and seems to be more immigrant tolerant in general, and although there is a lot of islamophobia around these days i think there is less racism and hate because the muslims that originally came here were mostly professionals and they've spread out instead ghettoizing and there is less pressure to confirm to one culture/lifestyle.
verdict: so anyway i'd say it's a good book to read if you're looking for something, but expect the usual stereotypes about muslims.
out of 5 stars