Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Exploring Iran

Here are some fun supplemental links for our reading of Jason Elliot's Mirrors of the Unseen. Further information about the animated celebration of Isfahan can be found here.
Here's a YouTube demonstration of the mosque's acoustical properties
and here are the shaking minarets. Some YouTube demonstrations of Zurkhaneh (both narrated in French) can be found here and here. You can find a few extra pictures of Louise Firouz and the Caspian Horse here. Last but not least, I discovered that UNESCO has this neat World Heritage Tour site that allows you to visit several of the historic sites explored in the book via 360° panoramic view. You! Are! There!

Our November Author: Jason Elliot

Alas, there is not much available online to help us get to know Jason Elliot, author of Mirrors of the Unseen, only a 2001 Salon interview focusing on Afghanistan and this Guardian article on Islamic art.

For February: The Yacoubian Building

For February we have chosen Alaa Al Aswany's The Yacoubian Building:
This controversial bestselling novel in the Arab world reveals the political corruption, sexual repression, religious extremism, and modern hopes of Egypt today.

All manner of flawed and fragile humanity reside in the Yacoubian Building, a once-elegant temple of Art Deco splendor now slowly decaying in the smog and bustle of downtown Cairo: a fading aristocrat and self-proclaimed "scientist of women"; a sultry, voluptuous siren; a devout young student, feeling the irresistible pull toward fundamentalism; a newspaper editor helplessly in love with a policeman; a corrupt and corpulent politician, twisting the Koran to justify his desires.

These disparate lives careen toward an explosive conclusion in Alaa Al Aswany's remarkable international bestseller. Teeming with frank sexuality and heartfelt compassion, this book is an important window on to the experience of loss and love in the Arab world.

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