Not for the feint of heart, but immensely rewarding, it's everything I love in a novel. Motifs weave their way in and out of the narrative effortlessly, and plays on words sometimes raise eyebrows, sometimes induce a guilty snicker. The language and ideas are quite playful while being earnest at the same time.
Although it is very challenging, the book can be enjoyed on many different levels. It's the only audiobook I've listened to more than once, and I always find new things to appreciate with each listen. If you can be content with enjoying the work for its simpler pleasures the first time through, you may find yourself enjoying it a second time, too.
If you find it challenging, I encourage you to enjoy it for whatever you can take out of it the first time. You may find yourself, like me, compelled to give it another listen, and dive deeper into the historical and cultural themes that I found quite slippery the first time through. I used a bit of help I found online when I got too lost. If, like me, you are completely ignorant of the history of Islam (including the Old Testament stories of Abraham, Hagar, Ishmael, etc...) you may want to find a primer online.
A note about the performance: This book, more than others, depends on a strong performance, and Dastor delivered in spades. He brought the characters to life and added to the richness of the book. He finessed, spun, chortled, and deadpanned the language as necessary to give the listener the best opportunity to get everything the book has to offer out of the audiobook. Bravo, bravo, bravo.
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