Synopses & Reviews
What happens to our pop culture when it meets another culture head-onespecially one that, according to some, is completely at odds with our own?
In The Sheikhs Batmobile, pop culture commentator Richard Poplak sets out on an unusual two-year odyssey. His mission is to see what becomes of his and Americas obsessionspop songs and sitcoms, Hollywood movies and shoot-'em-up video games, muscle cars and punk musicwhen they make their way into the Muslim world.
Over the course of his journey, Poplak gets body-slammed by WWE fans in Afghanistan, hangs out with hip-hop artists in Palestine, headbangs to heavy metal in Cairo, discovers a world of extreme makeovers in Beirut, bowls with the chief of police in small-town Kazakhstan, and encounters a mysterious Texan who builds rocket-propelled Batmobiles for a clientele of sheikhs.
With uproarious humor and keen cultural insight, Poplak asks some vital questions: How is American pop culture consumed and reinterpreted in the Islamic world? What does that say about how we are viewed by young Muslims? And can Homer Simpson bridge the divisions that are tearing our world apart?
Praise for The Sheikh's Batmobile
"With insight, humor, and compassion, The Sheikh's Batmobile puts a nail in the coffin of 'Clash of Civilizations' theory. The author and subjects are equally human. If you see Ayaan Hirsi Ali, throw this book at her." Michael Muhammad Knight, author of The Taqwacores and Journey to the End of Islam
Poplaks expertly-researched and beautifully-written book is one of the most important documents of the post-9/11 world.” The National Postt
I would read Poplak if he wrote about watching paint dry. He is a gifted addition to the exploding and increasingly sloppy literary non-fiction genre. Dark, funny, self-deprecating and poetic, Poplak is a punk Graham Greene both exploiting and being exploited by the cultures he inhabits.” The Globe and Mail
A heroic feat of research, analysis, and on-the-ground reportage . . . At the very least, The Sheikhs Batmobile should shatter the Western stereotype of the Muslim world as repressive and stagnant.” Quill and Quire
Poplak avoids making easy connections . . . his de-embedded journalism is always open-minded and captures the uncanny perfectly.” Eye Weekly
Humorous, astute and vivid . . . The Sheikhs Batmobile will leave you itching to travel, giggling and glued to YouTube, looking up references. The book is less about how Muslims view Americans as it is about discovering a shared lexicon between two cultures. Poplaks view of popculture is nuanced, as it emerges as a mutating entity crossing national and ideological boundaries.” The Coast
This is a great book and despite its lighthearted title and subject matter its a serious book. Its an important book too, because it promotes understanding and leaves the reader with hope that at a human level, and at a creative level, the kids are all right.” Winnipeg Free Press
If . . . youre willing to join the author on his irreverent excursions to dictators palaces, blaring Egyptian heavy metal sessions, concerts preempted by Kalashnikov fire, and secret Batmobile laboratories (yes, the book does live up to its name), then you will doubtlessly ease right into Poplaks narrative . . . The book is not a magnifying glass searching for Western brushstrokes on an Islamic canvas, but rather a kaleidoscope that bounces the reader's assumptions and expectations off the colorful mirrors of zestful narrative and impressive legwork.” Wiretap Magazine
A fast-paced and culturally savvy look at a section of the Muslim population underrepresented, if not entirely ignored, by Western media.” Open Book: Toronto
In the riotous, fearless, and very funny tradition of Hunter S. Thompson and Jon Ronson, Richard Poplak takes us through the looking glass and into an upside down, funhouse mirror pop culture universe where Homer Simpson drinks juice out of a beer can, batmobiles are custom-designed in a desert lair and Islamic children spontaneously recreate the video for Lionel Richies Hello. In the process, Poplak gives us a mantra that unites the West and the East, the secular and the sacred: Fuck you, Shrek, you big green motherfucker.” Nathan Rabin, Head Writer, The A.V Club, author, The Big Rewind and My Year of Flops
Whether dissecting Indonesian punk bands or the eternal wisdom of Magnum, P.I., Poplak is everything you want in a cultural interpreterfunny, frank and utterly incapable of spewing mass market pabulum. Poplak gets beyond the cheap, superficial observations lesser writers bring to his subject, revealing himself as a genuine thinker who delivers original insight and laughs in every chapter.” Chuck Thompson, author of Smile When Youre Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer