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Aaliyah Bilal

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Temple Folk (2023) 34 eksemplarer

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The publicity for Aaliyah Bilal's Temple Folk hooked me right away: "A groundbreaking debut collection portraying the lived experiences of Black Muslims grappling with faith, family, and freedom in America." I'd never seen a book of stories focused on the Nation of Islam, though I've encountered some discussion of NOI in my reading, particularly in the autobiography and other biographies of Malcolm X. X became engaged with NOI while in prison, and it played a significant and empowering role in his life while he was incarcerated and afterwards. Near the end of his life—and, importantly, after completing the hajj—X began questioning some of the precepts unique to NOI, particularly those regarding racial-ethno identity.

Temple Folk is deeply contextualized within NOI, so readers may want to do some exploration of the faith's precepts and history before beginning Bilal's collection of stories. Unless you're familiar with NOI you're apt to find yourself confused at points, but this is no reason to avoid Temple Folk. As is the case any time one enters a new cultural milieu, you'll need to do a lot of inferring and will have to accept that you may not grasp the stories' significance as completely as those who are part of the culture.

Bilal's stories examine the different ways NOI has shaped believers and former believers' lives. She often focuses in on inconsistency (in some cases hypocrisy) in her character's religious beliefs and practices. One thing her characters have in common is a strong ethical sense. These are individuals who take living within a faith and decision-making about right and wrong with deep seriousness, so small inconsistencies can be particularly informative.

Temple Folk makes for reading that is informative, challenging, and valuable. Bilal's book provides a promising start—both in terms of her own growth as a writer and in terms of the development of fiction set within a NOI context. We need more such writing—and also need to see where Bilal will take us as she continues writing. Temple Folk marks a starting point that has the potential to lead to any number of vistas.

I received a free electronic review copy of this title fro the publisher via Edelweiss; the opinions are my own.
… (mere)
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Sarah-Hope | 1 anden anmeldelse | Jun 21, 2023 |
I hate when we yank our child's arm to come along. Children are so vulnerable at that age. We are the giants who always make the right decisions.Temple Folk by Aalliyah Bilal begins with an event. It is a special day. The Trailway bus is their transportation.From the first story, you can feel that the author, Aaliyah Bilal, writes wonderful descriptions of people, places or things. If you are not familiar with the Muslim culture, do not worry. She eases new words like Messenger into the story. There are ten stories, not many to hover over. Plus, the stories are not boring. The first story "Blue" is interesting because this father of the family is striving to convince his family to leave the Nation. Each story is very different.A reminder that no culture is worthy of an ignoring eye.… (mere)
Tea58 | 1 anden anmeldelse | May 4, 2023 |