I’ve just finished two wonderful and remarkable books: My Father’s Blood by Amy Krout-Horn (the new) and Ali and Nino by Kurban Said (the old) . In all sincerity, I think both would be appreciated by a great many readers. Excellent material to kick off a new year of reading. I would have to say that both are examples of Spiritual Fiction, as they explore the realities of beliefs and practices as they relate to the practice of a spiritual life in the face of so-called “real life”. Below are my reviews, as posted on goodreads.com.
As always, thanks for stopping by my blog. Please comment if so inclined–even if only mildly inclined–no problem. jesse s. hanson
It’s difficult to sufficiently express the connection I felt reading Amy Krout-Horn’s autobiographical novel. As her self-portrait style character of both European and Native American descent comes to identify more strongly with her Lakota ancestry, I am reminded of the phrase—the prayer—All My Relations. I am aware that those words have a particular significance in this story. Finding her way is, in fact, a gradual process, since her father’s Lakota blood is not the primary heritage she learns about as a young girl. Rather, she is raised in mainstream, small-town, upper Midwest America, with the religion, history, and values that come with that territory. To that, I can most certainly relate, just like Amy, but ultimately, cannot truly identify with it.
The young girl’s American dream is challenged at a young age. Her trials are deeply emotional as are the trials of all young girls. Yet the comparison with most other young girls stops there. Forced to make her own way in a world that relentlessly removes her from security, she recovers again and again from the dark nature of despair. Krout-Horn allows the reader to experience both the brutality and the poetry of life right along with her. And, I think, therein lies the depth of this early memoir. She writes with a flourish that is not flowery, with a poignancy that is not contrived. I did find the omniscience of the narrator slightly disconcerting, in the case of a memoir, yet the book is presented as a novel, so of course, it’s obviously a matter of style.
Yes, I feel more deeply connected, having read My Father’s Blood, even as I feel more deeply the great chasms of separateness, culture to culture—as I mourn the separation of individuals from one another, created by our all-consuming culture of consumerism. This is one of those fine books that speak to us in a profound way about our relations. To those of us who have, to whatever extent, left behind our small towns or our old neighborhoods, we often feel a need to recognize our relationship with all as brothers and sisters. Yet there is also great relevance in the preservation of a people, in the reverence for and devotion to a way of life. “Are we Indians, Grandpa?” the little girl asks. “I suppose some places we would be,” he said…
There are so many levels of interest in this little novel; we are intimately exposed to and educated about the familiy’s debilitating and life-threatening illness and we become witness to the intuitive strengths that are sometimes granted to the handicapped. Another one of the very interesting aspects to me was the author’s personal question: who is an Indian? I certainly appreciated the expressed vulnerability in a brief but openhearted examination of this subject. From Chapter Six, Spring of Bleeding Hearts: “My grandfather’s eyes met mine and I saw the tiniest pinpoint of light flickering in the shiny black pupils, like the gleam of a star, its brilliance diminished only by the unfathomable space and time that exists between itself and Earth.”
I recommend My Fathers Blood. It is a remarkably tasteful and yet artistic work for so young a writer. I suspect she is young, only in years, as we know them.
I’d never even heard of this story, but my circles don’t run that wide. I stumbled across it: a love story, extraordinare–a love story in more ways than one. Where Asia meets Russia meets Europe. An Islamic boy and a Georgian girl. A Russian revolution and a World War. All of this lovingly and elegantly captured in classic novel format by an unknown author with the ghost name, Kurban Said.
Just click on the edition here (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46284…) and read the great synopsis by Alix Wilbur. If you’d rather just read it cold without the synopsis, then just read it. It may be even more relevant today than in the time of its inception. It is such a lovingly rendered view of fundamental Islamic culture that the non-Islamist reader is irresistably drawn in. Simultaneously sincere and lighthearted.
Please read it… You won’t forget it.