Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Butterfly Mosque

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I decided when I was offered the opportunity to be the WIR for Open Book Toronto, that I would take a look at some books that I normally wouldn't have thought to. The Butterfly Mosque by Willow Wilson is one of those books.

Initially I was interested by the synopsis wherein a young (American) woman comes to a conclusion slowly that she would like to convert to Islam and when an opportunity comes up for her to move to Cairo, Egypt after graduation from University, she jumps at it. She comes to feel at home, meets the man she will marry and eventually formalizes her conversion.

I am the sort of person who relishes in the personal details of someone's life and even more so in the context of a memoir. What kind of personality a person has, what is important to them, who is in their family, where they live, who are their friends, what is their space like? I am that person who will talk to strangers in an airport and find out all about their lives "back home". From that standpoint, this was not the read that would be satisfying to me in the normal course. What was satisfying were the details that Willow (whose adopted name is Zeinab) shared with the reader about her journey.

I was intrigued to see how this young woman stood her ground and with quiet dignity explained that her conversion had everything to do with "coming home" spiritually and was not as a result of falling in love with her Muslim husband. In truth her private and personal spiritual journey started while she was still in University in the US, I am a big supporter of people getting to a point of being truthful about who they are in the world and being able to represent themselves honestly. From that standpoint, this was a very satisfying, encouraging and illuminating read which I would highliy recommend.

"Choosing the way you live is choosing to live." These are words that have been resonating with me since I read them on page 64. Thank you Willow.

The Butterfly Mosque
A Memoir
By: G. Willow Wilson
Published by: McLelland and Stewart
ISBN: 978-0-7710-8934-3

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Pj Kwong

Pj Kwong is a figure skating expert and writer currently working for CBC Sports. Her first book, Taking the Ice: Success Stories from the World of Canadian Figure Skating (BookLand Press), will be in stores in September 2010.

Go to Pj Kwong’s Author Page