What We Are Reading Today: Sapiens

Updated 08 April 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Sapiens

Author: YUVAL NOAH HARARI

Yuval Noah Harari’s bestseller, Sapiens, aims at providing a general history of us, Homo Sapiens, and our ancestors, reaching back as far as 2.5 million years ago. 
It is a book bound to appear on a large number of coffee tables and favorite lists. 
“Just about everything you want to know about humankind is skimmed through in 400 dashing pages,” said a review published in goodreads.com.
“Fascinating tidbits to peak your interest are sprinkled throughout. Everything complicated is made simple,” the review said.
Hariri “seemingly optimistic that economic globalization will create a world-empire that will do for the globe that Rome did for Europe, but constantly bewails the effect we have on the world, chronicling extinctions and such,” it added.
A review published in The Guardian said: “Much of Sapiens is extremely interesting, and it is often well expressed. As one reads on, however, the attractive features of the book are overwhelmed by carelessness, exaggeration and sensationalism.”


A poetic reflection on what it means to be Muslim in Europe

Updated 17 June 2019
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A poetic reflection on what it means to be Muslim in Europe

  • Rahmani is an Algerian-born writer, art-historian and academic
  • Her first novel in the series, “France,” was about her father — a Harki, an Algerian soldier in the Algerian War who fought for the French

CHICAGO: From France comes the second book in Zahia Rahmani’s trilogy, “Muslim: A Novel” Delving deep into identity loss, displacement, misrepresentation and monolithic labels, Rahmani’s book moves between Algeria and France and the political and societal pressures of being both Muslim and European. The circumstances of her birth and the past have always been dictated by conditions beyond her reach and have forced upon her the loss of language and her own history.  

In unadulterated lyrical prose, Rahmani grapples with the circumstances of her life. She writes, “I was forced to lose myself in the century of errors that came before me,” disclosing that her life has never been her own. She was “born in 1962 in a society between times.” After moving to France at the age of five, Rahmani realized her life had changed once she began to lose her language Tamazight, a Berber language spoken by the people of Kabylie in the Aures Mountains, one that was never written down.

Remembering Quranic stories, her mother’s folktales and her own memories, Rahmani draws parallels with her own life to try and understand her fate. She has spent most of her time imprisoned and mislabeled as an Arab, or French, or an immigrant — even though she identifies as none of these.

Rahmani’s language flows freely like water, despite the weight of her words and their inferences. Her writing is impactful and profound as she attempts to close the gaps in herself, trying to understand her own identity or, rather, one that has been forced upon her.

Rahmani is an Algerian-born writer, art-historian and academic. Her first novel in the series, “France,” was about her father — a Harki, an Algerian soldier in the Algerian War who fought for the French. After being exiled from their home, the family sought refuge in France but faced severe discrimination.

“Muslim: A Novel” was originally published in 2005 then translated by Matt Reeck, a poet and translator, from French into English and published by Deep Vellum in 2019.