English-language BookGroup

January 2022 BookGroup selection is Paradise, by Abdulrazah Gurnah


Win­ner of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Lit­er­a­ture, Abdul­razak Gurnah’s Par­adise is at once the sto­ry of Yusuf, an African boy’s com­ing of age, a trag­ic love sto­ry, and a tale of the cor­rup­tion of tra­di­tion­al African pat­terns by Euro­pean colo­nial­ism. It presents a major African voice to Amer­i­can readers…Through the eyes of Yusuf, Gur­nah depicts com­mu­ni­ties at war, trad­ing safaris gone awry, and the uni­ver­sal tri­als of ado­les­cence. Then, just as Yusuf begins to com­pre­hend the choic­es required of him, he and every­one around him must adjust to the new real­i­ty of Euro­pean colo­nial­ism. The result is a page-turn­ing saga that cov­ers the same ter­ri­to­ry as the nov­els of Isak Dine­sen and William Boyd, but does so from a per­spec­tive nev­er before avail­able on that sel­dom-chron­i­cled part of the world. [Goodreads]

February 2022 BookGroup selection is The Fortune Men, by Nadifa Mohamed


A Book­er Prize final­ist, Nad­i­fa Mohamed’s nov­el The For­tune Men is based on a true event, the sto­ry of a mur­der, a mis­car­riage of jus­tice, and a man too inno­cent for his times — “a blues song cut straight from the heart … brought alive with sub­tle artistry and heart­break­ing human­i­ty” (Wal­ter Mosley, best-sell­ing author of Dev­il in a Blue Dress). In Cardiff, Wales in 1952, Mah­mood Mat­tan, a young Soma­li sailor, is accused of a crime he did not com­mit: the bru­tal killing of Vio­let Volac­ki, a shop­keep­er from Tiger Bay. At first, Mah­mood believes he can ignore the fin­gers point­ing his way; he may be a gam­bler and a pet­ty thief, but he is no mur­der­er. He is a father of three, secure in his inno­cence and his belief in British jus­tice. But as the tri­al draws clos­er, his prospect for free­dom dwin­dles. Now, Mah­mood must stage a ter­ri­fy­ing fight for his life, with all the chips stacked against him: a shod­dy inves­ti­ga­tion, an inhu­mane legal sys­tem, and, most evi­dent­ly, per­va­sive and deep-root­ed racism at every step. Under the shad­ow of the hangman’s noose, Mah­mood begins to real­ize that even the truth may not be enough to save him. A haunt­ing tale of mis­car­ried jus­tice, this book offers a chill­ing look at the dark cor­ners of our humanity.



TMR’s English-language BookGroup has read/discussed:


  • Ayad Akhtar’s nov­el Home­land Elegies
  • Malu Halasa’s nov­el Moth­er of All Pigs
  • Laila Lalami’s Con­di­tion­al Citizens
  • Has­san Blasim’s short nov­el God 99
  • Dima Alzayat’s Alli­ga­tor and Oth­er Stories
  • Sahar Mustafah’s nov­el The Beau­ty in Your Face
  • Tobie Nathan’s A Land Like You (reviewed in TMR here)
  • Susan Abul­hawa’s Against the Love­less World (reviewed in TMR here)
  • Hoda Barakat’s Voic­es of the Lost (reviewed in TMR here)
  • Sinan Antoon’s I’jaam
  • Omar El Akkad’s What Strange Paradise

    To join the Book­Group (free, all wel­come), send your name to
    books@themarkaz.org today. The group is cap­tained by Rana Asfour, TMR’s Book Editor.