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Muhammad: His life based on the earliest sources by Martin Lings

Child of the Dawn: A Magical Journey of Awakening by Gautama Chopra

Secrets of a Family Album by Isla Dewar

Rien Ne Va Plus by Margarita Karapanou

The Seasons of Beento Blackbird by Akosua Busia

A Thousand Years of Good Prayers : Stories by Yiyun Li

In Dahlia's Wake by Yona Zeldis Mconough

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Member: akeela

CollectionsYour library (616), Wishlist (26), To read (76), Favorites (69), All collections (619)

Reviews102 reviews

Tagsfiction (323), non-fiction (250), to read (163), translated (91), memoir (90), favorites (87), Africa (65), read in 2008 (61), American writers (52), read in 2009 (49) — see all tags

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Missing by Karin Alvtegen (Sweden)
Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan (set in India)
Cecilia by Linda Ferri (Italy)
The Last Brother by Natacha Appaneh (set in Mauritius)
Jamilia by Chingiz Aitmatov (Kyrgyzstan)
The Last Summer of Reason by Tahar Djaout (Algeria)
How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer (US)
Shadow by Karin Alvtegen (Sweden)
The Writing on my Forehead by Nafisa Haji (Pakistan)
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (Japan)
All the Living by C. E. Morgan (US)
Touch by Adania Shibli (Palestine)
A Thousand Rooms of Dreams and Fears by Atiq Rahimi (Afghanistan)
House of Mist by María Luisa Bombal (Chile)
Death of an Ex-Minister by Nawal El-Saadawi (Egypt)
This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun (Morocco)
Hunger by Knut Hamsun (Norway)
Rien Ne Va Plus by Margarita Karapanou (Greece)
All This Belongs to Me by Petra Hulova (Czech Republic)

My reading thread for 2011.
My 75 Book Challenge and Club Read threads for 2010.
My reading thread for 2009 and my favorite global reads.
My reading thread for 2008.

Some Favorite Global Finds:
Landscape With Dog and Other Stories by Ersi Sotiropoulos (Greece)
By the Sea by Abdulrazak Gurnah (former Zanzibar, now Tanzania)
The Seasons of the Beento Blackbird by Akosua Busia (The Carribean, Ghana)
Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga (Zimbabwe)
Mosquito by Roma Tearne (Sri Lanka)
Lemona's Tale by Ken Saro-Wiwa (Nigeria)
Earth and Ashes by Atiq Rahimi (Afghanistan)

Profile pic: Some fun rock scrabbling and boulder hopping forms part of the breathtaking Otter Trail (on the Garden Route in South Africa). Pic taken on a misty morning in August 2010.

Reading Globally: Countries Visited Since 2007

create your own visited country map
or write about it on the open travel guide

About my libraryCreate your own visitor map!

Groups75 Books Challenge for 2008, 75 Books Challenge for 2009, African/African American Literature, Arab, North African and Middle Eastern Literature, Author Theme Reads, Board Room, Caribbean Literature in English, Club Read 2009, Club Read 2010, Club Read 2011show all groups

Favorite authorsChimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Muhammad Asad, Martha Beck, Charlotte Brontë, Edwidge Danticat, Denyse Devlin, Charles Dickens, Abdulrazak Gurnah, Knut Hamsun, Bessie Head, Kazuo Ishiguro, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Martin Lings, Naguib Mahfouz, Rohinton Mistry, Maggie O'Farrell, Atiq Rahimi, Roma Tearne, Thrity Umrigar (Shared favorites)

LocationCape Town, South Africa

Account typepublic, lifetime

URLs /profile/akeela (profile)
/catalog/akeela (library)

Member sinceOct 14, 2007

Currently readingBack from Africa by Corinne Hofmann
In the City by the Sea by Kamila Shamsie
Somewhere, Home by Nada Awar Jarrar

Leave a comment


Wow, you have been busy! I read all your reviews this morning! I should spend a day catching up like that. XXX - Lois
Hi Akeela,
I have added you to my interesting libraries. Although we don't share many books, you have lots that I want to read. Reading Globally sounds like an interesting way to "see" the world, I'm off to have a look.
Hi akeela:
I just wanted to tell you that I just finished "Burning Marguerite" which I added to my library after reading your review waaaaay back in 2009. Totally loved this book. It will probably be in my top five for the year - maybe it will even be the very top book.
Thought my Reading Globally: Countries Visited had a lot of "red". You beat me hands down

Hi Akeela,

I'm currently reading By The Sea (loving it) and noticed your review - which led me to your profile. And I've greatly enjoyed perusing your favourites and recommendations. What a feast of new authors, and new worlds. Thank you so much. Makes me realize how enslaved I am to Western literature!!

Robin Dawson
hi akeela,
what a treat to hear from you!!! i really like thrity umrigar's writing - loved the first book the best -
i am so loving reading belletrista - what a gift that is to those of us who love international literature - i'm planning to read writing on my forehead this summer and was pleased to see your positive review of it -
keep posting your gorgeous photos -
have a great one -
warmest wishes,
Love that picture, btw.
ha! my solution for book funks (or brain overload) is usually police procedurals or novellas (or otherwise really short books). I seem to have to read before going to sleep, so I have to read something!
Just dropped in to check something in your library and saw you're reading How to Breathe Underwater - hope you're enjoying it as much as I did. My favourite was The Isabel Fish. I was supposed to review Orringer's first novel, just about to come out, for Belle - what a disappointment! I couldn't finish it (I'd have persevered had it been shorter but it's over 600 pages).

R x
I meant to add that I have been going through a few South african writers in the last couple of weeks. I went to Clarke's bookshop in Cape Town last year, but hadn't got around to reading any of the stuff I bought. Lois sent me 'To Hell With Cronje' by Ingrid Winterbach for Belletrista, so I unearthed my South African pile. I have read the Winterbach, some Can Themba (excellent), 'Bulldozer' by Achmat Dangor (nice poetry, a lot of Afrikaans stuff which I couldn't read) and 'The Stone Country' by Alex la Guma, which I also really enjoyed. I have some more (Alan Paton, Modikwe Dikobe, and a coulpe published by Readers International whose names escape me), but have been sidetracked for the moment by other things.
We had really good weather for most of the week. We had lot of rain on the journey back from de Koop, and hailstorms the day after we got back, but other than that it was perfect weather. We got some great views of Table Mountain from Bloubergstrand, and across the other side of the bay (Somerset West area, I think). We have been in Summer, but many years ago (2001). If we came back we would try to do it ata different time of year, as I would really like to do some hiking (maybe in the Drakensberg), but it was perfect for driving around with an elderly relative. I would not have been able to walk this time anyway. I did a walk for charity two days before we flew, and I had very swollen feet and blisters for the first couple of days, so pottering around, eating and sleeping were about all I was good for.
Hi Akeela,
We have been and gone, I'm afraid. Sorry for not making contact but we ended up not really going to Cape Town. We stayed in Century City with an aunt, rather than Rondebosch as we first thought. We had a couple of days up the West coast and a couple of days down in the area of De Koop/Hermanus. Unfortunately our family had planned stuff for the whole week we were there, so we had literally no time to ourselves. Sorry. It seems like a shame to be so close and not say hello, but we didn't have an opportunity.
All the best,
Love the display of book covers; what a wonderful array of books! - L
Great that it's arrived! And sorry for never replying about Cry the Beloved Country. I do have it, just not here, so hold off because it is even in the little Reinach library. It is really nice of you to offer to send it.

I've just finished watching NZ draw in the WC with Paraguay. Am sad, because they have to go home now, but they did so well - there'll be a huge parade next week!
Hi There
I see that in the last few days we both read A Journey Home. I liked it very much.
Hello Akeela,

thanks so much for the comment - i always smile when i hear from you!
yes, i loved small island - got that originally from your list and your delightful review - right after i finished the book, i was amazed to see that it was adapted for television and was able to see it last night - the performances were fabulous and i enjoyed the story all over again!
here's a link - and i believe that you can view it online -

i hope that all is well with you and look forward to the belletrista newsletter -

warmest wishes,

Hi Akeela,

Thanks so much for your suggestion of the Belletrista link. It is really a great site, and I hope to have an added resource for books.
Take care, bueno11
Yep! That's awesome akeela. I'll get those added to the widget today. Thanks!
Hi, actually my name is Manuel but Xieouyang is my Chinese pseudonym. I travel to China quite a bit and found that Chinese people had great difficulty pronouncing the name, particularly the 'nuel' ending. So I opted for a Chinese name. Additionally, since that's my email name, my Chinese friends or people I meet love it when I give it to them.
I helps make good friends there.
Did just now check out the gallery!!! There's a reason you're one of my favourite people, you know :) Thanks for the tip!
Hey Akeela, I didn't know, and thank you! And...lurking? you? No, no, you call it "keeping an eye on the newbie". Sounds much nicer!
Oh, excellent! This way I get to keep the two replacements:-) (they actually have not come in that the bookstore yet). I had thought I might like to read the Bombal after reading her story in the LA collection. Best, Lois
Thanks for the suggestions. You know, I could spend all year just adding to that list, lol!
Hi Akeela,
thanks for the holiday message - hope yours was beautiful - we had one grandchild in - he's 22 months old and loves books!
i've noticed that you have a great book site - bellatrista - and immediately fell in love with it! thanks for more great recommendations....
your new photo is beautiful - that tiger is gorgeous - how far is the game reserve from cape town?
i'm looking forward to more great reads in 2010 -
happy new year.
Thanks for joining my reading challenge. I'm looking forward to your reviews.
Hi Akeela -- nice to have you visit. I don't actually post book covers under Currently Reading, but I do post covers on my Club Read 2009 site. The html for that is -- you need to have the URL for the book cover -- I usually use the cover that is posted on the bookpage in LT. A good source for information about the techie aspects of LT and HTML is on the Virago group at:
hi akeela,

how are you? i see that one of your recent good reads is a book from Morocco. would you recommend any more titles by a Moroccan author, or about Morocco -- whether fiction or not? i'm traveling there in a few weeks and would like to read up a bit, i'm practically ignorant about lit from this part of the continent! thanks, in advance, for any suggestions...

I want to commend you for all your work on the Belletrista site. It is incredible! I loved your reviews!
Thank you for the welcome message !
Thule is a mythical island said to be up north from everywhere. So I guess it's kind of nowhere :)
Thanks, Akeela! I'll definitely keep in touch.

Thank you, Akeela.
I just wrote a long message to you and lost it - so I wrote another, slightly shorter, and lost now I'm just going to wish you a good week and leave it at that!

R x
Hey Akeela! Thank you for the very nice welcome message. I'm already hooked on LT (and I'm blaming you!)
Hi Akeela,

Have you heard of or read the book "Classrooms in the Shade" by Shanthee Manjoo? I received an e-mail yesterday morning from Amazon about it. This is Amazon's product description:

From the opening Sanskrit mantra to the final act of voting in South Africa's first democratic elections, this lyrical memoir provides a unique perspective on South Africa's modern history. The account shows how a young Hindu woman of Indian ancestry, living in South Africa in the 1940s, defied convention, married a Muslim man, and became an activist at time when Muslim women were seldom seen in such a role. As a teacher, she spoke up during the political strife of that highly segregated era, which included the relocation of Indians and angry student boycotts, and here shares her philosophies and insights into education. Filled with characters from both a personal and national context, the memoir captures the nuances of an important time and place.

It sounds interesting, and I wanted to get your thoughts on it.

Best wishes,
Hi Akeela!
Joined, and I'm already hooked. :D
Now just adding books and exploring.
I just saw that you left me a comment - back in February. I did love The Bean Trees very much. It had a beautiful build up and even more beautiful climax at the end. I was racing to finish it and was very touched. I hope that you like it as much as I did.

I did like Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress too, but Bean Trees was much more enjoyable. Balzac, there was something to be learned. it was very well written and as a book lover it was beautiful to watch two young boys find immense value in reading.

I hope that you like them both!
Thank you for the book suggestion. That does sound like something I would be interested in. A few months ago they reunited one of the missing children from the Balkans conflict with her real father. She had disappeared during a village raid or something as a baby and was raised by foster parents.
Just wanted to say a big thank you for all your recommendations of "By the Sea" - it is WONDERFUL (and exactly what I needed after the horrors of my last book). Sometimes a book comes along that's almost perfect, and this is one of them; I just don't want the stories to stop. I've got about 80 pages left so I'll finish it today.

R x
Akeela, please dont' feel guilty. I love picking up recommendations from your comments and reviews, etc. You're part of my inspiration for new books - at the moment you're a big part.
Hi Akeela! well, since you asked, I looked at your library again and ended up adding a couple of dozen of your books to my to-read list. You have such a good list of women writers from Africa, Iran, the mid east... I'm trying to stick with Iranian and African women now, so I forced myself to close my eyes to your other intriguing books... although books about hiking, gardening and spirituality always give me a nice friendly feeling! I often like to keep track of who recommended a book to me; would you mind if I added the tag "akeela's library" to my tags?

So I've just finished The Devil That Danced on the Water, and just started Infidel, and ordered a half dozen more from the public library. LT is dangerous! -Melissa
Hello Akeela,
thanks for the wonderful message - I will consider joining a group, but as you can see from the time between my messages, I am trying to do too much (always!!!) and not always able to give all to any one thing - so i hesitate to put my name to another activity! problem is that there's too much that interests me....

I would so love to visit cape town - your pics let me know that it's exactly the kind of place i'd love - mountains, ocean and lovely people (yes, you!) -

am having a good time reading now that my company is gone - had family visiting for 22 of the last 30 days - so i'm reading the 19th wife and listening to skeletons at the feast - both heavy reading, both very good so far.

hope you're having a great summer -

ps - i loved your liv ullman quote and will use it in my e-mails!

best wishes, Nancy (njinthesun)
Hi Akeela,

I finally received my copy of "Travelling with Djinns" this week. I absolutely love this book so far! Have you read anything else by Mr. Mahjoub?

Talk to you soon,

Hi Akeela,

I'm glad that you're reading and enjoying "A Grain of Wheat". I'll probably start reading "Petals of Blood" next month. I enjoyed "Wizard of the Crow" even more than "A Grain of Wheat", and I would love to read it again (although the hundreds of other books on Mt TBR are also clamoring for my attention!).

I just posted a review of the latest book I read, "Mi Revalueshanary Fren" by the dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson. I hope to finish "The Obscene Bird of Night" by Jose Donoso this weekend. I'm off this weekend; well. I'm off today, and I may have to work tomorrow night (6 pm to 1 am) to help admit kids to the hospital if the doc on call gets overwhelmed (I hope not!). Next week I only work three days, so I should get some good reading in.

Your posts have been absolutely fantastic, especially those on your Reading Globally page. Thanks for sharing with all of us.

Have a great weekend! Talk to you soon.


I need your address so I can get you a copy of Ex-Libris. It is a wonderful book, one of my all-time favorites. You simply must get a copy!


I got the candy and the book today! Thank you so much!

So, what can I send you? Hmmm . . .

Hi, great suggestions on my SantaThing. If I don't get those from SantaThing, I'm going to get them for myself. Thanks!
You won't go wrong with [The House of the Spirits] as your initial read by Allende. Sheer pleasure to read...
hi akeela, i just thought of mentioning a few South American authors for ur list. Gabriel Garcia Marquez of course is a must. i would suggest Chronicle of a Death Foretold for a start before tackling his masterpiece One Hundred Years of Solitude. Chronicle, for me, is what superb writing is. Isabel Allende, Laura Esquivel, both are wonderful. Then there's Jorge Luis Borges, Mario Vargas Llosa. Just a few names that you shouldn't miss... :-)
Hurray! glad you're going to be back around here soon, sprinkling the Akeela sunshine! Hope you really have had a "Good Month" in the meanwhile.

Yes, I've read Family Matters, and A Fine Balance as well, and I loved them, too. The problem is that I read all 3 in the space of a few months so now I've no idea which was which. As far as Canadian authors are concerned (apart from ones like Mistry who was born in India), don't tell anyone, but I don't think I've read many... Every time I stumble upon a discussion of Canadian lit, I realise the extent of my ignorance! I like Atwood (her novels much more than her short stories, and I really DON'T like her occasional writing), and last year I discovered Alice Munro - I'm trying not to do the same thing as with Mistry so I'm taking it very slowly and have only read 2 of her books so far, but I really liked them and will read more. I recently acquired a book by Robertson Davies and one by Mordecai Richler, partly in at attempt to fill the gaps (but they've gone into boxes, and who knows when they'll re-appear?) How about you - what have you been underwhelmed by?

Any inkling of a decision yet?

r xx
ha ha! I've just been to post my top 5 books of the quarter. I read all the other posts but without really looking at whose they were, and I was excited to find someone whose list included 4 of my favourite books from the last couple of years. I was about to rush off to this person's library to see what ideas I could borrow - but it turned out to be you! (I haven't got my hands on anything by Ken Saro-Wiwa yet, but he's on my mental TBR list - have you read anything else of his?)
I see you've just added [Such a Long Journey], by the way - another of my absolute favourites.

I'm so glad to see that you have added the Berberova, the Akhmatova, the Mandelstam, the Dangarembga, the Bowles and the Marai. All wonderful, imo. I hope you will enjoy the Berberova and the Marai as much as I did. Glad you liked the pictures of the geezer, the geezerette and the various offspring.
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