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Bilal's Bread [Paperback]

Sulayman X
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Alyson Publications Inc (6 Jan 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555838618
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555838614
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.5 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 788,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Don't take the Mad Mullah too seriously" 16 Oct 2006
'Bilal's Bread' should really fall into the category of a 'coming of age' novel, but there is some magic ingredient that seems to lift it into a category of it's own. Perhaps what distinguishes this novel is the graphic sexual nature, or the equal precedence given to the issues of religious, ethnic and cultural isolation; either way, it is a tremendous read for all ages and nationalities.

Bilal is a 16 year old Kurdish boy living in Kansas City with his family - who fled to America after Bilal's father was murdered by Iraqi Secret Police. His family consists of his ineffectual mother, who still lives in the past, an older sister, who has adapted with enthusiasm to life in America, and two older brothers. One, Hakim, has largely renounced Islam and is content to live an easy, Western life. The other, Salim, now 'head of the family', is fanatical about religion, family pride, and preserving the dead father's memory.

Inevitably there are tensions in the local community post 9/11, as the middle eastern families are treated as terrorists by their neighbours and shunned by local businesses. Bilal's journey is even more hazardous due to his growing realisation that he is gay, and his attraction to his best friend, son of the local Imam. Added to this mixture, is the brutal and tyrannical rule of his older brother, Salim, now 26, who has been raping Bilal since he was 9 years old.

The author, Sulayman X, has produced a gripping novel from this melting pot of conflicted loyalties, indoctrinated religious beliefs, and family and social pressures. Though dark and bleak at times, 'Bilal's Bread' is also a cautiously optimistic, incredibly erotic work, and assists in breaking down sweeping prejudices. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I read it in a day!! 7 Feb 2008
I bought this after reading the only review left on Amazon and I have to say that the book really lived up to it!
It really showed a whole race and religion in another light and although the characters are from another part of the world the story could ring true for anyone,anywhere.
It is a very brutal read from the 1st page but immediately your heart breaks for Bilal as his story of abuse is played out with very few characters which enables you to connect quickly with each of them.
The darkness of the story plays alongside a very touching tale of 1st love,coming of age and a young abused boy who finds the strength to fight a fight harder than any war.
I hope more people read this book as it opens your eyes to a very taboo subject which happens day in day out in real life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Fiction 19 Jun 2008
By Keoki
This is simply a stunning novel. It combines on the one hand the gut wrenching brutality of Bilal's psychological, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of his oldest brother, with the poignancy of his self discovery, and his discovery of love. Sadly it also points up the hypocracy of some 'utra-religious' and 'overly macho' individuals, who condemn certain sexualities whilst secretly indulging their own illicit passions, often brutally, as if the very violence of the act makes it alright. I would recommend this novel but caution prospective readers that they will be unlikely to remain unchanged by reading it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars well baked 8 Dec 2011
By jonquil
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I first read this book many years ago. Then I met someone who had been through a difficult experience, and it brought this book back to mind. When I first read it, as a westerner, I thought there was dramatic licence in the book and I was a little wary of it, thinking it made a good narrative, very dramatic, almost melodramatic. But since meeting other people and learning more about things I have come to the depressing realisation that Bilal's Bread was no where near as far fetched as I had originally thought. In fact the person I bought this copy for has found it a useful way of dealing with his own issues. That speaks for itself. The story is clearly and accessibly written, it is lucid, it deals sensitively with deeply disturbing issues and, if it helps communities to stop blaming victims, making them victims twice over, and to start putting an end to abuse of young boys, and hiding it behind 'family honour' then the book has far more value than just being a story. It can help raise awareness and change attitudes. So, at whatever level, just as a piece of literature or as an expose of a difficult problem in some communities, it is well worth a read.
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