Saturday, January 15, 2011

Our January Author: Reza Aslan

No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of IslamThis month we are reading Reza Aslan's No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam.  The author has such a comprehensive website, I'm tempted to just refer you there-- or take the short cut to his YouTube channel or Daily Beast columns and find the topics that interest you most.  Here are a few more pointers:

One thing missing from his site are his talks given here in Pasadena at All Saints Church. Check the Forum archives and note that he will be speaking there (with James Carroll) again at an event March 27-28. Keep an eye on their calendar for updates.

This Los Angeles magazine interview gives you some biographical insight and pointers to other up-coming projects,
After seven years on television and in the op-ed pages, how would you rate your effectiveness in shedding light on Islam?
To be honest, you caught me at a weird time. I’ve spent most of this last decade writing books and articles and doing media appearances and working with organizations and interfaith councils. I’ve been essentially doing my best, or at least my duty, in trying to educate people and provide them with the information they need to hopefully reframe their perceptions not just of Islam but the Middle East—a part of the world that has been misunderstood as monolithic and unchanging. And what I’ve concluded over the last three or four months with this unprecedented wave of anti-Muslim sentiment, or Islamophobia—whatever you want to call it that has gripped this country and become disturbingly mainstream—is that I’ve completely wasted my time. I could write a dozen books and do a hundred interviews on every media channel in the world, and I am not going to shape the way people think as effectively as I would if I could just focus on what I really want to do, which is storytelling.
While seeing him this discouraged makes you want to reach out and offer a big ol' Rights Readers solidarity hug, this makes me really curious about what direction he will be headed in at the All Saints event!

I also love hearing our Rights Readers authors talking to each other and the Los Angeles Public Library's ALOUD series gives us a chance to hear Amy Wilentz (Martyr's Crossing) interview Aslan. You can also hear Aslan interviewing Pamuk (Snow) and Rushdie (Midnight's Children).  All of his appearances with ALOUD can be found here.

Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East (Words Without Borders)Aslan's latest book is an anthology Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East. You can sample it at Words Without Borders.  WNYC interviews him about the book and other issues in the news including Islamophobia and the Park 51 project. In this Guernica interview, he talks at length about the book, the power of literature and the internet to erase borders and create new communities. Also a bit of news, No God But God will be out in February in a Young Adult version.

Reza Aslan appears frequently on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Here's a Colbert clip of an interview re No God But God. See his website for links to Jon Stewart clips.

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Reza Aslan
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