My Fun Critique of a Novel by Ameen Rihani, First One in English by An Arab-American Author

I often almost forget the Pisces moon in my sign, but last night I glimpsed its sweet glimmering through the slim hallway window, still tall enough for me to see the moon aglow and the rain shimmering darkly around it too, before bed.

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It is Sunday and I’d received the news yesterday that Britney Spears is free! 🎉🥳🎉from her conservatorship!! I was so happy to see this! and I’ve also been recently doing well myself.

I’d been in recent months following Britney’s story and IG posts as a contemporary one similar to the poet May Ziadeh’s in 1900s Egypt and Lebanon who had lost her own estate by her relatives who threw her in a mental institution in Lebanon and took over her estate and wealth, and that asylum was not a good place.

After nine months, May was eventually free; the author, Ameen Rihani whose novel I’d recently finished was listed as one of few colleagues to make a petition to release her. “Thanks to a campaign spearheaded by the Lebanese-American writer Amin al-Rihani she was released from the psychiatric hospital.” (Inside Arabia)

I finished reading Ameen’s book, The Book of Khalid which features ”The Hermitage” and the situation of reading relates to both authors, as I am in a hospital (#2 in country so not bad) with my medicine being correctly adjusted after a month ago’s prof. mishap with that, and it is also nice to think that May doesn’t have to follow the rules here😅with visiting hours.

I set up some red grapes I asked 💗my husband Dan to bring for me (who has been so incredibly supportive and helpful) 💕💗💕 in a bowl given by staff🍇 for friends here to share…I was excited to make some of them green tea with me who wanted to try it first time or enjoy it again, which Dan also brought in for me (not the loose leaves though 🙃, teabags only allowed).

I realized, “Hmm… a fairy 🧚‍♀️ setting up some fruits to share and brewing warm cups of green tea for everyone; this is like a Hermitage!” with rules too, even if the places were for different purposes. And so it was a fitting place to fully complete reading the novel, The Book of Khalid, a truly laugh out loud story I was amused by at home too and read enjoyably when I was first without my phone at all for a few days here, saving much of my book review in comments on my Kindle over days in the meantime.

This review might be nice if you think you may want to read the book (free on Kindle) but even if you don’t plan to read it.

The author even happened to include my very own blog name in that book😯…some pretty fun thoughts to follow! Your very own Sunday news 📰 (to be read any day of course)…

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The Book of Khalid was the first novel to be published by an Arab American, written in English and pub. in 1911.

I could tell right away by the flow of the sentences and uncommon vocabulary that this poetic prose was not a translation. (I still checked for accuracy to learn that it was not a translation.)

The Book of Khalid stands out as admirable from other fiction of its type and time period with its layers of narration.

We hear of the story through the narrator who also hints at feelings people may have about “editors,” as well as including references to the main character, Lebanese born Khalid’s book manuscript or MS.

Poet Khalid is immigrating from Lebanon at start of the book, his goal being to arrive in New York City after passing through the busy immigration spot, Ellis Island and afterwards be able to take the ferry to Manhattan. At Ellis Island, Khalid would be checked with the others to see if he is ‘fit enough’ to enter the USA.

We also hear from the second main (contrasting character), Shakib journeying too and of Shakib’s published book, with a title that resembles the English words, A History.

The book contains plenty of excitement and confidence in viewpoint, warmer and more teasing in tone than familiar to me British allegories, yet with a similar blending of spiritualities and beliefs and myth characters, as in the epic poem The Faery Queene by medieval English author Sir Edmund Spenser (also featured on the blog when I came across a tiny green fragile copy of it at the library to be glued back to life again.) 😊🧚‍♀️

This novel by Ameen Rihani could have even inspired The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings series by author J.R.R. Tolkien, as Tolkien’s books were published only some years after in the 1930s. Rihani’s The Book of Khalid (1911) contains similarly charming, very personable, “hermits.”

As far as what could be better, the effortful emphasis on philosophies being legitimate or credible could start to carry the story and reader away from the exact setting and characters, and the reader may have to try harder than they may want to to know where the current setting is now and which character is being told about…Also, small parts of the philosophy felt too systematic to me at times, as well as the political parts I set aside.

I found the book best when there was less effort on forming a clear, convincing stance, but thriving and surprising itself in its prose poetry form this author Ameen Rihani was known for in his lifetime, as part of the Romantic Era Arab Renaissance in Literature.

I would’ve liked to have kept some more of the story in the immediate experience, such as the immigrants traveling with which the book begins and illustrations of the Lebanese rural setting and a desert, along with the mysticism and magic realism that can feel wonderfully less place-specific & very universal, an incredible complement to the reality grim immigration experience wherein the book begins.

Even with weightier subject matter, the novel never felt heavy. A great thrill was coming upon a quote about fragility and fleetingness, showing that contrast with the eternal… with the mention of delicate flowers growing in “the blush of dawn,” the name of my blog! 💗🙌

I am warmed finishing it, feels like a comfy novel, even if I wanted there to be some moment of more physical touch between characters. I am looking forward to getting my own print copy of the book, saved it to my wishlist, this copy including poet Kahlil Gibran’s illustrations, who was 7 yrs younger than Ameen and was inspired by this book to write his own well-known prose poetry book in English, The Prophet (1923).

I found it funny that the narration seemed very impressed and amused with the joke of harmless fires, (and I thought this especially funny to have first known Ameen as a Sagittarius author🔥after looking up his bday to add to the blog)—the kind of non-offensive ‘just light it up,’ lighthearted and teasingly so, a kind of party joke as if said by him while sitting around the room among friends.

It reminded me of the song “5, 10, 15, 20…earn it just to burn it, throw it in the furnace, yeah that **** be funny…” 💶by Eminem, but this novel is much more driven by topics of spirituality and morality, unlike the song, and pretty thorough, with the author Ameen Rihani citing classic philosophers and also well-known writers of British and American literature. It is powerful in exploring the peace that comes from one’s purpose as a community.

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It is another 🌓Pisces moon with such unplanned Sagittarian art and entertainment: Sagittarius Britney Spears just free!, Similarly DJ Khaled (“Another one!😅🎶”) had been shared with latest music recommendation followed by Piscean Justin Bieber!, and now this review of author Ameen Rihani, a Sagittarius whose birthday is coming up (again, we share the man mainly in terms of his pages.) ✍️🙂🙏

And it continues…I browsed through many of my latest free book reads that I saved on my uppermost shelf at home and I had packed with me to bring here to read.

I also looked through the small library here too (in which a friend coined me the name ‘Tornado Jade’ as I excitedly searched through them all, and she put them back normally 😅 just a moment after I left.)

So I selected Pride and Prejudice from a free library find some months ago I’d brought with me from home, for current mood and time period preference, and unplanned, written by another Sagittarius, Jane Austen.

This novel is a reread for me after awhile and I am getting much more out of it now. And Jane Austen is the eldest of all in this post now, as she is 101 yrs older than the author of this book I’d reviewed, Ameen Rihani, as she was b. 1775; Jane was writing in England, having lived herself in the countryside. 😊✍️📚🎉

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Yesterday: Good Morning

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