Babylonian Tales

I have included a few stories from the Mythology and Folklore class I took last semester, but I never posted my final project. I had a lot of fun retelling Babylonian myths in different contexts: historical fiction set in the Civil War, modern day life, poetry, and science fiction. The narrator is the scribe god Nabu, who has lived to the present day and wants to try his hand at being an author. I am quite pleased with the final result, which you can read here: Babylonian Tales: The Book of Nabu.

Carving of Nabu

Nabu

2017 Book List

One of my favorite parts of this time of year are the year end booklists that various sources, such as the New York Times, publish. I scour these to create my own list of books to read over break. Of course, I always end up with far more books than I can actually read, but I find some excellent books that I would not have read otherwise. I thoroughly enjoy having access to both the Norman Public library and the OU library, not to mention Interlibrary Loan. Here are some of my favorites from this past year, not ordered by preference:

Fiction: 

Alif the Unseen: An absolutely amazing book set in a fantasy world inspired by the Middle East that involves technology, ancient books, political upheaval, and the world of the jinn.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore: A wonderful tale of books, technology, and quirky characters that several people recommended to me and that fully lived up to expectations

Miss Burma: Historical fiction set in Burma/Myanmar during the struggle for independence. I learned a lot about the history of Burma and the ethnic conflict that has erupted recently in the violence against the Rohingyas.

Biography/Memoir: 

Vincent and Theo: After visiting the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam a couple of summers ago, I wanted to learn more about his life. This book takes a very personal approach, emphasizing the relation between Vincent Van Gogh and his brother Theo, based on the letters they wrote throughout their lives.

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me: An extremely moving story of Sherman Alexie’s life growing up on the Spokane Indian reservation and of his complicated relationship with his mother

Daring to Drive: The story of Manal al-Sharif, a Saudi activist who became a face of the women’s driving movement in Saudi Arabia.

Bruchko: The story of a missionary in Colombia and Venezuela who emphasized that conversion to Christianity should not require Americanization or Westernization

Butterfly Mosque: The story of an American woman (the author of Alif Unseen) who converted to Islam and moved to Egypt

Seeking Allah Finding Jesus: Nabeel Qureshi’s story of conversion, including his beliefs about Christianity when Muslim

Languages, Linguistics and Other Non-Fiction:

Diglossia and Language Contact: Language Variation and Change in North Africa: An indepth look at the languages spoken in North Africa and their influence on each other. I learned so much about the particular situations described and about language contact and diglossia in general.

Vanishing Voices: A saddening and inspiring discussion of endangered language in a historical and environmental context.

Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: A well-researched analysis of the gospels in their historical and cultural context. I particularly enjoyed the section on Jesus and women.

The Secret Life of Pronouns: A description of a psycholinguist’s research into what people’s use of language tells about them. I was initially skeptical but his experiments were quite convincing.

Poetry Club: Fall 2017

This year, I participated in the Arabic Flagship program’s Poetry Club again. We had a small group, so we were able to hold the club more entirely in Arabic. Unlike last semester, where I memorized a poem by Ahmed Matar, this year I teamed up with another student to write and present a poem at the talent show. We wrote a story in the form of a poem, concerning the journeys of Ibn Battouta the Bat through the spider and dragon civilizations. The spiders love beauty and lies, while the dragons love fire and truth. Eventually the bat finds a world of bats that live in the forest, where there is both light and dark among the trees.  While the vocabulary and rhyming was rather challenging, I enjoyed it very much.

هذه السنة، اشتركت في نادي الشعر في برنامج الفلاجشيب من جديد. كان المجموع صغير، فاستطعنا ان ننقاش الشعر اكثر بالعربية. على الرغم من الفصل الدراسي الماضي، عندما حفظت قصيدة من احمد مطر، في هذه السنة انا وطالبة اخرى كتبنا وقدمنا قصيدة. كتبنا قصة بشكل قصيدة عن رحلة ابن بطوطة الوطواط في حضارة العناكب وحضارة التنين. تحب العناكب الجمال والكذبة وتحب التنانين النار والحقيقة. في النهاية يجد الوطواط عالم الوطاويط حيث هناك نور وظلام في الاشجر. استمتعت بكتابتها كثيرا

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