This book was originally written in Arabic by author Wajdy Mustafa, while he was in the midst of serving a Syrian prison sentence that was politically related. It was passed, in a rough form, from one prisoner to the next, as they waited eagerly for their turn at reading the haunting and captivating pages.
After his release, Mustafa was able to publish the work in English as well. It is a testament to the fact that love is love in any language, and its joys and sorrows are something anyone – anywhere – can relate to.
At the heart of the story is a forbidden love between a married woman named Julia and Selim, a young man she is tutoring in French. But there are many sub stories and characters, each with their own tale to tell – so much so that only careful reading will keep the changes in point of view and tense from becoming confusing. But it’s well worth paying close attention. The reader comes to know each character and is eager to find out more about their life and how it intertwines with the main characters. It’s impossible to divulge more information, because as mentioned, it’s complicated – but highly intriguing.
The book is at times poignant and beautiful, and at other times deliciously mysterious. As in his previous book, Levant Fever, Mustafa sets his story in Syria and Lebanon, giving it a unique glimpse into a region normally thought of as only hostile and dangerous. The author proves once again that good storytelling, the universal human condition, and the power of words can touch the heart and keep the pages turning.
Simon’s Splinter is an intriguing title, and it only begins to hint at the inspiring fantasy that awaits readers of the book.
It’s a love story with a decidedly unique twist. Owen Graham (known as Graham) and his girlfriend Aisha have been in a relationship for 5 years and are living together. Graham’s not in favor of marriage because he’s seen too many end unhappily. He’s also not a religious man, as opposed to Aisha, whose faith is strong. Aisha has insisted all along that she’s fine with their differences…until now.
When members of her family come to visit, she confides in her grandmother Jaddah that she really does want more – she wants marriage and quite likely children, as well. Jaddah reveals a powerful family secret about who the family is descended from. It revolves around an item she’s brought with her – a wooden splinter encased in a glass case. To say more would be to spoil the impact of the revelation, one of several in the book. Suffice to say, the tiny wooden splinter appears to have mighty powers. It seems to transform Graham overnight, and thus transforms the life he shares with Aisha.
What magical, mystical powers does the item possess, and will those powers remain a fortunate influence, or turn on the couple? Is there truth to the idea that there can be too much of a good thing?
There are many twists and turns to the story and the subplots that arise are also highly entertaining. Set aside any doubts or disbelief and just enjoy this fantasy that’s captivating from beginning to end.
I’m not the most technical or trendy, so I just now had my first experience with e-fiction. It was in the “short short” category, which suited me fine. How wrong could I go with a brief story, I thought?
It turns out a) I like e-material and b) I didn’t go wrong at all with the choice. It’s a brief romance titled Benjamin Said… by Ivette Cardoso. I can’t give much away for fear of ruining the overall experience, but in essence, it’s the story of Sophia, a recently divorced Miami woman who finds much more than she could hope for when attending Ash Wednesday services, in the person of a handsome stranger.
The story may be short on words, but it is long on promise, giving the reader hope for finding love. Author Cardoso has an intriguing command of words and slightly irreverent sense of humor. She easily conveys the spark of attraction, the idea that we move through life never knowing when something unexpected and fulfilling might find us.
Benjamin Said… was my first reading experience of this author’s work. I notice that she has written several other stories and I’d like to explore them. Without knowing anything about her, I could easily see her writing short shorts for a women’s magazine like Woman’s World. I’m a fan of that particular publication’s short romances and that’s the feeling I got when reading this story.
Benjamin Said… left me wanting more — in a good way!