Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Worldly Wednesday: ONE HUNDRED AND ONE NIGHTS by Benjamin Buchholz

Last year, I read more than 100 books and plan to read as many again this year (yes, reading is a writing goal - see this post).

While the majority of books I read are clearly for children and teens - PBs, MG, and YA novels - I occasionally take time out to be an adult and read books targeted for a different age group.  The one I'm reading now has me entirely captivated, and though I'm not finished, wanted to share.

The book is called One Hundred and One Nights by Benjamin Buchholz.  I actually won the book via a Twitter Giveaway, but it feels as though I was meant to receive this book.  (Follow the author @Mialaylawalayla).
Publisher:  Back Bay Books
Click the cover to read a sample!


The basic premise (summarizing from back-of-book copy) is that Abu Saheeh has returned to Iraq after spending more than a decade in America.  Shortly after his return he meets Layla, a whimsical fourteen-year-old girl with something to say - or sing - or ask - about everything.  As he fights to rebuild a life in his home country, he endures the awakening of painful memories and the struggles associated with searching for salvation - proving Layla's unlikely companionship may not be enough to pull him through.

In my own words:  It's the only book I've ever read that mentions Umm Kulthum and Britney Spears within a page of each other, and Aliens and falafel in the same chapter.  How fun and culturally significant (my kind of book).

Some of my favorite quotes from the book so far:

"Despite several glances I cast at the in-facing courtyard windows, I still do not see their mother.  This is traditional society now.  This is her role–cloistered, separated.  She won't break the pattern...even for the sake of an old friend like me."

"I cross the road and walk to my house...and I think about how tribes have been split as men draw lines across the desert."

"But with too much safety comes ignorance."

Anyway, I'm recommending it.  Thumbs up.  A thought-provoking read thus far and a trip into another culture and place.  I'm also tickled to learn that Buchholz has lived in Wisconsin!

If you're interested in buying a copy on Amazon, click below.  One Hundred and One Nights is also available on the publisher's website and don't forget to check out your local indie bookstore, too!

8 comments:

Sylvia Liu said...

This looks really interesting...I'll check it out. And thanks for stopping by my blog. . .it is great to find so many interesting people and blogs through the comment challenge.

Patricia T. said...

I love your bright and inviting blog. Thank you for commenting on my blog. You're published, will have to look up your books. I love what you are doing in Gambia -- right up my alley. Can anyone be involved? The book you reviewed captivated me. It reminds me of some others I've read and loved -- but a different twist. I know Creole is spoken in Haiti, but I imagine your interest in languages must be related to Gambia. (My daughter has gone on medical mission trips to Haiti.)

Joanna said...

Miranda, this sounds like a really must read for me. I too read few adult books these days because of writing and reviewing children's books, so I am very selective about my adult book choices.

Benjamin Buchholz said...

Miranda . . . thank you for this wonderful and insightful review! I hope you enjoy the ending as much as you've liked the beginning, though it is a bit muddier, a bit darker.

Cheers,
Ben

Miranda "Sibo" Paul said...

@Patricia! Do you speak Creole? My husband is an island man (Saint Lucia). Creole is a staple in our household, and St. Lucian Creole is a lot like Haitian Creole (his best friend is Haitian). We've written a few stories together, and just finished polishing. Don't know where to shop them around, though.

@Joanna! It is strange to go back to the adult world...but this book, for me, is a perfect transition back into it. There are so many setting descriptions that remind me very much of my many stays in West Africa, such as the call to prayer and more.

@Benjamin! I'm sure I will. I read a lot more last night. But no spoilers on my blog! :) Thanks again.

Benjamin Buchholz said...

Miranda . . . send the stories with the Creole influence to Storyglossia. That 'zine has been great to me. In fact it was the place through which my agent 'found' me.

Sandy Brehl said...

Miranda,
Happy to find your blog and read about your impressive writing progress. You would love another title, I suspect. It was a Jane Addams winner in 2010. Their summary is here:
Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter, Beach Lane Books.
Nasreen's parents are gone, her father taken one night by soldiers, her mother lost on her search to find him. Now living with only her grandmother, Nasreen stays is silent with trauma. Whispers about a forbidden school reach her grandmother who, with stealth, bravery and hope, brings Nasreen to the secret school hidden in the home of an equally-brave woman, a teacher of girls. The power of education and resistance stand out in this all-too-true contemporary tale of the human toll exacted by war and the oppression of women. Winner, Books for Younger Children 2010.

Marjorie said...

I find I mostly read kidslit/YA books too - either that, or nineteenth-century stuff, when I have my other hat on - so I'm not always good at picking up on books for adults - so thank you for this recommendation. I will put it on my list for my PaperTigers Reading the World challenge for this year!

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