Changing Identities

In my project to read a book from each country or territory, I so far have found some reoccuring themes: family, travel and migration, how our identities change in places and through time. All of those resurfaced again in the three books I read in June so far.

41 America Samoa: A.P. Lutali – My Samoan Journey

The book was an autobiography and a political narrative. I’d have wished for a bit more of a human touch and analysis of why things happened the way they did. Nevertheless, I gained lots of knowledge about what I think is, unfortunately and wrongly, a little-known territory of the USA. It was interesting to read how the author transformed from an educator into a politician. His descriptions of the amazing nature of the islands were splendid – I really hope I can get a chance to see them one day.

42 Morocco: Laila Lalami – The Moor’s Account

What a great book! I loved listening to the adventures and experiences of Mustafa/Estebanico, in the audiobook read by Neil Shah. Mustafa’s narration shows the importance of perspective and different voices telling a story about the same event, in this case the expedition of Narváez and Cabeza de Vaca to what are now the southern USA and Mexico. His distinct views on the various cultures, religions and people are truly enriching to the reader.

43 Syria: Fawwaz Haddad – Gottes blutiger Himmel (translated into German by Günther Orth)

This book, called God’s Soldiers in its English translation, reminded me of accounts of Nazi atrocities committed at Babi Yar. Massacres, bloodshed and torture were committed by all participants in this novel, including US-American soldiers, al-Qaeda, private security services, and whoever else was fighting in Iraq in 2006. To imagine that those events, which form the frame for the story of a father in search of his son, more or less happened in this described way made for a rather painful read, especially the sequences in the morgue and about the young gay men. It was, however, worth persevering, in particular because of the multiple views on religion.


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