Book Club: Wednesday 24 September 2014 (7 pm)
Book: The Forty Rules of Love
Author: Elif Shafak (Turkey)
Facilitator: Randa Azkoul Soubaih
Where to get the Book:
The book is available at Librairie Antoine (All branches).
Please go to this page to register for the session (complimentary): Click Here.
Bring your friends. You do not have to be an AUB Alumnus.
About The Forty Rules of Love: first of all, please do not judge the book by its cover. This is what you will find in Antoine. The publisher probably thought it would sell more. The initial cover is the second one showing an oriental palace.
The novel takes you back into history and allows you to discover Shams al Tabriz, who had a great impact on the poet Jalal-ud-Dine Al Rumi, the great Persian poet. Like many of Shafak’s novels, The Forty Rules of Love tells intertwined stories separated by centuries. The overarching narrative concerns Ella, a forty-year-old Massachusetts mother of three, unhappily married to a dentist.
Drowning in middle-class ennui, Ella finds a part-time job reading manuscripts for a literary agency, where she is given a novel called Sweet Blasphemy, about Rumi, the Sufi poet. Intrigued, she strikes up an epistolary romance with its nomadic author, a Sufi convert named A. Z. Zahara. Her life is changed forever.
Ella’s story alternates with chapters from Zahara’s novel, which is in turn a spiritual love story between Rumi and Shams of Tabriz, the wandering dervish who is said to have introduced Rumi to mysticism. Shafak is a longtime student of Sufism, and her new novel seems, in part, an effort to imagine an Islamic past that is consonant with contemporary values: a worthy project. "Early Indian Sufism proclaimed that Muslims, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and Hindus all were striving toward the same goal and that the outward observances that kept them apart were false," Wendy Doniger observed in her recent history of Hinduism. (Adapted from the New Republic).
Interesting Links about The Forty Rules of Love:
For an article from the Independent: Click Here
From the BBC website: Click Here
From a BBC blog: Click Here
From the Color of Energy Works: Click Here
About the Author, Elif Shafak: an award-winning novelist. She was born in Strasbourg, France in 1971 and is the author of 12 books, including The Forty Rules of Love and her latest novel Honour. She writes in both English and Turkish and divides her time between London and Istanbul. Her most recent book, Honour, was published in 2013. As Turkey’s bestselling female writer, she is a brave champion of cosmopolitanism, a sophisticated feminist, and an ambitious novelist who infuses her magical-realist fiction with big, important ideas. Her novel The Bastard of Istanbul, which appeared in 2006, inquired into the taboo subject of Turkey’s Armenian genocide; and as a result she was charged with "insulting Turkishness," a crime that carries jail time. Her audacious surrealist novel The Gaze, from 2000, explored the anguish engendered by constant, unkind physical scrutiny, and managed the seemingly impossible feat of turning academic feminist theory into often haunting fiction. Now, she has written a novel about an American housewife who finds love with a bohemian Sufi mystic. The fact that the novel has become a bestseller in Turkey is a hopeful sign that the empathy created by fiction can transcend nationalist and religious hatreds. If only it were also a good book. (Adapted from the New Republic).
Interesting Links about the Author, Elif Shafak:
From Elif Shafak’s website: Click Here
From Wikipedia: Click Here
A TED talk: Click Here
About the Facilitator, Randa Azkoul Soubaih: Randa is a teacher of English Literature and Theory of Knowledge at International College, Beirut. She is also the college counselor and chairs the Secondary School English Department. In her spare time she is a freelance French-to-English translator. Her hobbies include creative writing, acting (Click Here) and traveling.