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God in Pink by Hasan Namir

God in Pink

by Hasan Namir

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595314,122 (3.5)1
Lambda Literary Award winner, Best Gay Fiction A revelatory novel about being queer and Muslim, set in war-torn Iraq in 2003. Ramy is a young gay Iraqi struggling to find a balance between his sexuality, religion, and culture. Ammar is a sheikh whose guidance Ramy seeks, and whose tolerance is tested by his belief in the teachings of the Qur'an. Full of quiet moments of beauty and raw depictions of violence, God in Pink poignantly captures the anguish and the fortitude of Islamic life in Iraq. Hasan Namir was born in Iraq in 1987. God in Pink is his first novel.… (more)



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In my life I've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with queer, trans, and other-oriented youth, many of whom have had a difficult time at home or in school. I think this book would be a marvelous read for them. It reads like a YA book, a book aimed at young people who don't feel comfortable reading Literature with a capital L. It deals in a straightforward way with the worst things that can happen when a young person comes out to a family whose religion defines being gay as being a sinner. In just the first chapter a young man is shot for being gay; another character kills himself for being gay. These things happen in real life and this novel gets straight to the point. The novel also has added appeal for these young readers because it is set in Baghdad, and would allow young readers to learn something about a different culture as well as the universality of gay oppression. I'd like to see it on the LGBTQ shelf in every YA section in every library, where young readers would appreciate it on many levels, and where it could do some good. ( )
  poingu | Feb 22, 2020 |
The longer I sit with this book, the more it's sinking in. I knew that I loved it when I finished, but the more I think about it, the more important a work it feels.

It's not a long book, but there's a lot to take in. There are so many themes that are well-explored, but without extraneous text. Religion and homosexuality are obvious themes, but more universally it tackles shame, vulnerability, misplaced trust, and the feeling of being an outsider. Despite being a culture with which I am not intimately familiar (and to which a great deal of my exposure is through the eyes of journalists), Namir made his protagonist's struggle so personal and relate-able. At the risk of sounding self-centered, it made this struggle feel more accessible.

This book is significant and timely. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to read it. ( )
  jekka | Jan 24, 2020 |
A brutal, matter-of-fact, powerful book about what it means to be gay in Iraq. I think -- especially post-Orlando -- that it's particularly important to look at people's experiences of being gay and Muslim, and this book does so in a nuanced way. ( )
  bucketofrhymes | Dec 13, 2017 |
I really wanted to like this book.I really wanted to feel like I was gaining an understanding of what it would be like to be a gay man in a fundamentalist Muslim culture. But this book was so uneven as to be largely untrustworthy. I kept wanting to set this book aside, but kept talking myself out of it. The narrator witnesses people murdered in front of him and is largely unaffected. Numbed by living in a war-torn society? I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt. The narrator witnesses his lover commit suicide in front of him? He's upset of course, but the upset seems so shallow as to be unbelievable. Then he meets a new crush and it's so... I've read more nuanced romance by teenage fan-fiction authors.

Then the sheikh who is struggling to find a way to minister to him starts having visions from the story of Sodom, and the visions turn to fantasies of raping the visitors? And it turns out that the sheikh in the end is gay and wants to wear his wife's make-up? I mean what in the actual fuck?

Right after reading this I rated it 3 stars, but with distance this whole book annoys me more and more as I think of it. Skip it. ( )
  greeniezona | Dec 6, 2017 |
I really wanted to like this book, but I'm afraid the writing is fairly mediocre (often rather cliche), and the plot was very rushed along, with the characters' development very rushed along, including (spoiler alert) several murders and an imam/sheik becoming a queen in very short order. The main character Ramy was the most developed, and very sympathetic; I learned the most from him and felt for him and his impossible situation. It's a quick read, but I think the author took short cuts- it's almost an outline of a larger, more interesting book. The author might consider rewriting it and giving more depth to characters like Ali, Noor, Shams, and Sammy, who I think have potential, and their stories are clearly more complex. Rewrite this book, and make it about twice as long, maybe even turn it into a few novels. Anyway, I'm afraid I can't recommend it in its current state too much. ( )
  belgrade18 | Jun 23, 2016 |
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