If you read this blog, you know I avoid best sellers whenever possible …… well. I’ve seen Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Infidel on those front book shelves for a few years now and walked past it accordingly. A mistake. I started it yesterday and am enjoying it so much! Aside from the best seller-thing, I hate to admit I was avoiding it for other reasons as well. Did I want to read (at night and before bed, no less) about the horrific mistreatment of women in the Muslim world? Could I relate? Would Ali’s prose be the kind of stilted English prose that clunks painfully along? I’m happy to say that, so far anyway, I was wrong on both counts. I’m only 25 pages in, but wow, this is some story already. First, Christopher Hitchens (whom I admire) has written the foreword, praising Ali for her bravery in telling a story that could get her killed, and he also explains the religious teachings of fear and punishment and hell-fire-damnation — in Islam and Christianity alike — that make such a story possible.
As far as Ali’s prose: it flows beautifully and you need to know what’s going to happen next. This woman can tell a story. And I can relate to her relationship with her grandmother. The Somali grandmother has lived a hard life and takes her bitterness out on her grandchildren, particularly Ali. Ali loves her and fears her at the same time. I find myself reading her story and thinking, “Hey, I felt the same about my grandmother in Missouri!” From Cape Girardeau to Somalia, yet another example of the universality of family relationships.