Here’s my next stab at a book review:  Ok, so um yeah, Gotham Tragic. I picked this book up because it was tagged with muslim-convertâ in the library database.  I probably should have known from the cover picture of a tipping martini glass that it was definitely not muslim literature, as in literature written for a muslim audience.  It’s more of an islam/quasi muslims as a plot point type story.

The story follows a has been author 10 years after his generation defining novel.  Since that time, he’s done a lot of boozing, drugging, partying and fighting, until he finally settles down with a Turkish wife.  Then it’s just a fraction of the boozing, drugging, partying and fighting that he did before.  If I had to define the wife, she would be a cultural muslim.  She comes from a family of Russian-Turkish farm people who are fearsly loyal to their culture, if not to their religion.  She drinks, had lots of boyfriends before marriage, and doesn’t seem to mind that her husband converted to islam in name only to marry her.  Just as long as her children are raised to believe in God, she’s all right with the no salat and lots of drinking in her house.

The author converts prior to their wedding, takes the name Kurban, and continues to order wine and a cobb salad for lunch.  In the middle of the book, he publishes a piece of satire about his fake conversion to Islam.  This pisses off just about everybody and earns him a fatwa, *sigh.* Through the piece, we find that among the problems he has with Islam is that 1. He doesn’t believe in God and 2. He doesn’t like the fact that the Prophet Muhammad (saws) was a warrior.  Things go downhill from there, although towards the end he does try to pray.  It doesn’t work, but hey, better than nothing.

One thing that does puzzle me is one of the pivitol characters in the book – a poor saudi immigrant who works as a doorman in new york so he can save money to support his family back home.  I know there are poor saudis, but do they go abroad to work?  I know arabs from non gulf countries frequently travel to the gulf and elsewhere abroad to work, but I wasn’t aware that poor saudis did that.  Poor research on the part of the author or just me not knowing as much about the region as I thought?

The book is definitely not anti Islam.  It’s not hostile rantings about how evil the religion is.  Instead, I think it takes a contemporary literary approach to the problems many do have with the faith.  I can’t say I would recommend it to anyone but the very bored or a person looking to investigate the portrayal of Islam in contemporary literature.  But, in the end, not horribly nasty as one might fear.

3 thoughts on “Tragic

    • Mmm, I can’t really remember back that far. I think it was ok – decent writing, but I wasn’t wild about the story conent.

  1. it was funny that you reviewed the book and never gave us your opinion
    i think you left yourself out deliberately
    but i can tell you as a writer myself
    if you reviewed my stuff i want to know what ‘you’ think
    as the reviewer
    i hope one day you will be reviewing my anthology
    and you will say specifically [is that a word] hey this guy is great-or- nope don’t buy it he’s a dummy

    anyway i enjoyed the review i stumbled across your blog and i like it keep up the good wrk

    on a tangential point-over the years i’ve worked with a few muslims and i read this book called ‘1001 nights vol 1 and 2’ i’m looking fwd to reading thru vol 5
    i don’t know much about muslim culture beyond what i’ve read in the books and what i’ve picked up in converation but those guys are so nice
    and really nothing i mean nothing like the muslims they always shown on tv or in the movies

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