The Memory of Hands
There are writers, and there are writers. There are
books written by people who are able to get their idea across, to describe
an event or idea accurately. But then there are those writers who paint entire
landscapes in your mind, whose words haunt you, whose characters make
you reflect and and consider yourself from a completely different view point.
Reshma Baig is one of the second type. Never once do we see a description
of the author in this book, but she is within every page. The distinct voice of
her writing is unmistakable.
The Memory of Hands is a collection of short stories about "the challenges
faced by Muslim-Americans as they, too, begin to claim America as their
new home". This is not a book you can read dispassionately. "Throughout
the narrative, voices emerge from all corners of the Muslim-American
experience to articulate struggles, remembrances, fears and dreams." Some
books try (unsuccessfully) to relate to the problems and conflicting emotions
of those who grew up Muslim in wing up in the United States. The Memory
of Hands, definitely not a clinical study of American Muslims, nevertheless
reflects our experience in the most accurate way I've seen yet. I don't think
I've read a better collection of fiction about the Muslim experience in my life.
May Allah reward Reshma Baig for her book, and guide her in her pursuits,
literary and otherwise.
Reviewed by Se7en