The SJ Lit team aims to inspire and educate our community by creating spaces to ask questions, broaden our perspectives and deepen our faith. In the past we have organised popular events, including a screening of “Why Can't I Be A Sushi?”,
“Tales Around the World” by Khayal theatre, and Blockbuster Quiz Night. We want to cater to the whole community and so welcome any suggestions for future events. Watch this space for our upcoming exciting projects, including a book club!
Stanmore Jaffery's presented "Maatam and Me" -
To what extent do cultural forms of mourning determine our Shi'a identity?
How essential are cultural practices to our core Shi'a beliefs?
Does their evolution change our identity?
What place do they have in our modern society?
Held on Friday 6th September 2019, this seminar and open Q&A session with Sheikh Shabbar Mahdi was a great success and drew good discussion from the audience on the above
Click here for a synopsis of the seminar
“A Place For Us” by Fatima Farheen Mirza. This book about family and faith by young Indian American writer Fatima Farheen Mirza has shot up the ranks, becoming a New York Times bestseller. It has received glowing reviews, including by the Washington Post's Ron Charles: “Mirza writes about family life with the wisdom, insight and patience you would expect from a mature novelist adding a final masterpiece to her canon, but this is, fortunately, just the start of an extraordinary career.”
“A Place for Us” is a gripping story highlighting issues of raising a Shia family in the Western world, through the journey of an Indian Shia family living in America. Mirza, herself from a similar background, traces the stories of Amar, Hadia and Huda (the three siblings), and Rafiq and Laila (the parents) as they celebrate love and suffer loss, giving us a deep insight into the workings of their minds. It opens with Hadia’s wedding, one borne of love rather than traditionally arranged, and this opening scene provides the background to the numerous tensions within the family, including Amar’s less-than-angelic escapades.
The narrative structure employed is both effective and jarring. The timeline is not linear; it jumps from childhood to adulthood to teenage years, making the reader work to put together the pieces of the story. However, this allows Mirza to weave more emotion and depth to each of the memories, linking them through their impact on the character rather than chronology. Opinions were divided on whether this made it a more enjoyable read- some felt that it provided an interesting angle while others felt it made the story disjointed, leading the reader to lose interest.
Nevertheless, “A Place For Us” raises many profound questions regarding subjectivity of faith, how far religion can be imposed on a person, hypocrisy within families and communities, and how families respond when a family member moves away from the ways of their parents. It is not insignificant that our readers related so well to the characters in the book, coming from a very similar background and cultural traditions. This perhaps biased us to enjoy the book even more, but it has received high praise all round from prestigious book reviewers, as well as being on the NYT Bestsellers’ list and published by Sarah Jessica Parker.
Adichie is a Nigerian novelist and writer, known for some of her award-winning work as well as her TED talks “The Danger of a Single Story” and “We should all be feminists”, which became two of the most widely viewed talks. Purple Hibiscus is her first novel, published more than fifteen years ago in 2003.
The story revolves around Kambili, a teenager living under the strict reign of her devoutly Catholic father, who is a prominent and wealthy figure in the community. Kambili and her brother follow strict schedules carefully drawn out by their father. School, church and home. In their quiet and orderly home, silence is only broken with grace, a murmur of approval, or the sounds of beatings as punishment for weak faith.
Everything changes when Kambili and her brother spend some time away from home for their first time, with their aunt’s loud and opinionated family. Kambili and her brother observe wide-eyed the contrasting way in which her aunt’s family live: they laugh freely, they sing their prayers with a fun beat, and they disagree openly with each other. We follow Kambili’s inner identity struggles and watch her slowly transform, from her shy and obedient self to one willing to open up and fall in love.
Purple Hibiscus is beautifully-written and holds a multitude of important themes for our club members to discuss: our relationship with faith, family, love and acceptance. The book was awarded Best First Book in the 2005 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and Best Debut Fiction book in the 2004 Hurston-Wright Legacy Awards. If you are new to Adichie’s world, her first book is the best place to start!