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Zaatar Days, Henna Nights: Adventures, Dreams, and Destinations Across the Middle Eastby Maliha Masood
Synopses & Reviews
When twenty-eight-year-old Maliha Masood, a burned-out dot-commer from Seattle, bought a one-way ticket to adventure and rejuvenation, she found it in the most unlikely of places: the Middle East.
With an infectious love of adventure, a zany sense of humor, and serious questions about her Islamic faith, Pakistani-born Masood begins an unforgettable journey. She camps in the Sahara with a Bedouin "desert fox," is mistaken for a spy in Turkey, takes a lesson in beauty from a Kurdish family, and falls in love with a poet. She experiences souks and mosques, open-air lingerie bazaars and nightclubs grooving to hip-hop. In a region associated with terrorist havens, Masood meets ordinary Muslim men and women navigating the politics of culture, religion, and identity.
Zaatar Days, Henna Nights offers a street-savvy take on the contemporary Arab world that's seldom seen on the evening news. This is a story of discovery and faith, of making bonds and breaking stereotypes, and of finding oneself where one least expects to.
"Disillusioned with her daily routine-phone tag, email, multitasking-Masood leaves her job and her family in Seattle and sets off for the Middle East from whence she came. This travelogue follows Masood, strapped into an REI backpack and sporting a well-thumbed Lonely Planet guidebook, as she travels from Egypt and Jordan to Syria and Turkey over the course of 10 months, hoping 'to come to terms with a truer me, a more essential self that couldn't entirely be placed amid the bullet points of my resume.' A Pakistan-born Muslim American in her late 20s, Masood finds herself blending into her environment-visiting mosques regularly, making friends easily-without entirely fitting in, a dichotomy ethnic Americans often grapple with while abroad and the ambitious, fascinating topic Masood excels in exploring. Unfortunately, Masood is less interested in describing sights and sounds-the dusty air of Egypt, the bustle of Turkey-and in so doing may fail to hook readers more interested in exotic locales than self-discovery. Though there's much here that's stimulating and relatable, fans of travel writing may feel they've been invited on the trip, but denied the pleasure of losing themselves in it." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Masood has much to say about the daily lives of the lovely and hospitable people who befriended her and helped her grow." Library Journal
About the Author
Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Maliha Masood grew up in Seattle, WA. She is the coproducer of Nazrah, an award-winning documentary film exploring perspectives of American-Muslim women. A graduate of Tufts University with a master's in Law and Diplomacy. Masood has worked in her native Pakistan as a development consultant. Masood is also the president and founder of Diwan: Dialogue on Islam, a nonprofit institute based in Seattle, where she lives.
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