Synopses & Reviews
When I began this trip, I had jetted to the Best Western in Santa Cruz, California, to learn the secrets of sexual ecstasy. For a little over four years, I confronted dualities, and they confronted me. Hinduism versus Islam. East versus West. Male energy versus female. True spirituality versus false opportunism. I had to choose the values with which I wanted to live.
Tantrika tells the compelling story of a woman whose world travels and spiritual journey bring her face-to-face with the most fundamental dichotomy of her identity. Born in India and raised in the foothills of West Virginia, Nomani moves away from her Muslim upbringing to pursue the Hindu and Buddhist path of divine love.
What began as a professional assignment for the Wall Street Journal to write about Americas hottest new fad, Tantra, became a very personal odyssey. While Tantra is popularly conceived as an ancient form of yoga or as "sacred sex," the author's Muslim parents warn her it is a cult of black magic. In her search for the full story, Nomani travels from Santa Cruz to the feet of the Dalai Lama in Northern India, from meditation caves in Thailand to the homes of orthodox Muslims in Pakistan. Nomani's journey through the geography of her own spiritual conflict is a journey of self-discovery, of reconciling her Hindu ancestry and Muslim upbringing. She confronts darkness in ways she could never have imagined, but ultimately finds the path of the divine within herself and all women -- all "tantrikas."
"While Nomani is a talented writer and has strong material to work with, her memoir frequently loses focus. It staggers between a search for identity and a search for Tantra teachings and ultimately doesn't satisfy either theme." Publishers Weekly
"This book is about true discovery....It's about crossing borders of a troubled world with eyes and heart wide open." Ron Suskind, Pulitzer-Prize winning author of A Hope in the Unseen
"Who is Asra? Who should she become? These are the questions that animate the spiritual and romantic quest of Tantrika. A Muslim, born in India and fascinated by Hindu teachings, raised in West Virginia and making a career as a freewheeling American foreign correspondent, Nomani writes with searing honesty about journeys of the body and soul. By the end of her travels, she will have tasted the bitter poisons of betrayal and the bliss of hope reborn." Geraldine Brooks, author of Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women
"Nomani blazes new trails through South Asia, where body and soul first became a philosophy. The heart of her book is a Hindu/Buddhist/Muslim world you never knew existed. This is a writer open to complex emotions, whose gifts for description and spiritual candor bring beauty and truth together in new ways. The writing is quick and lush; the structure is solid. Nomani not only cuts to the chase; she is the chase." Michael Wolfe, author of One Thousand Roads to Mecca
"Asra takes the reader along on a journey aiming at crossing both physical and spiritual boundaries. Tapping the infinite wisdom of her ancestry, she becomes an Alice in Wonderland struggling to define self-identity in a world where the rules are constantly changing. The result is a fascinatingly honest book." Mariane Pearl, author of A Mighty Heart: The Brave Life and Death of My Husband Danny Pearl
About the Author
Asra Q. Nomani, a Wall Street Journal correspondent, has also written about the war in Afghanistan for Salon. A Muslim born in India, Nomani grew up in Morgantown, West Virginia, where her father helped start the city's only mosque. At eighteen, she traveled to visit relatives in Pakistan to learn more about her religion and culture, a desire she continued through her work as a journalist and in writing this book. She is currently working on The Daughters of Hajira, a book about her pilgrimage to Mecca. Nomani lives in Morgantown, West Virginia with her family and infant son, Shibli.