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[ [ [ The Butterfly Mosque[ THE BUTTERFLY MOSQUE ] By Wilson, G. Willow ( Author )Jun-07-2011 Paperback Paperback – 7 Jun 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Grove Press (7 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802145337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802145338
  • ASIN: B00AF559HO
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 14 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,607,613 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

"The Butterfly Mosque," journalist G. Willow Wilson's remarkable story of converting to Islam and falling in love with an Egyptian man in a volatile post-9/11 world, was praised as "an eye-opening look at a misunderstood and often polarizing faith" ("Booklist") and "a tremendously heartfelt, healing crosscultural fusion" ("Publishers Weekly"). Inspired by her experience during a college Islamic Studies course, Wilson, who was raised an atheist, decides to risk everything to convert to Islam and embark on a fated journey across continents and into an uncertain future. She settles in Cairo, where she attempts to submerge herself in a culture based on her adopted religion and where she meets Omar, a man with a mild resentment of the Western influences in his homeland. They begin a daring relationship that calls into question the very nature of family, belief, and tradition. Torn between the secular West and Muslim East, Wilson records her intensely personal struggle to forge a "third culture" that might accommodate her values without compromising them or the friends and family on both sides of the divide.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Library girl on 12 Jun. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Once I got passed the first three chapters - She arives in Cairo in Chapter 4 -I was hooked and finished it in a day . The author comes across as an engaging and extremely likeable personality. This memoir is a very personal look at her acceptance of faith and her relationship with her Egyptian husband and his family. As such, it feels less contrived than some 'convert stories' as the focus is firmly on her emotional and personal life rather than an attempt to proselytise.

Perhaps because I enjoyed it so much, the book rather felt like only half the story: the Egyptian half of her life only. And, I hope that she writes a further memoir detailing her return to the United States and how she navigates the different facets of her identity as a white middle class American Muslim and how the dynamic between her and her husband changes in the face of a hostile society.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 62 reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Honest to the Bone and Beautifully Written! 12 Sept. 2010
By Irving Karchmar - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
G. Willow Wilson is honest to the bone, and I laughed and cried by turns at the vivid and poetic account of her life's journey in The Butterfly Mosque.

From a student's philosophic interest in Islam to a religious awakening in the hospital while suffering from what she calls adrenal distress, to Egypt, where she accepted a teaching position for a year, to meeting Omar, her adored and adoring soon-to-be Sufi husband and his extended family--all against the backdrop of the Middle Eastern way of life in Cairo, that overcrowded, overhot, overdusty great city of the Nile.

Willow's descriptive and analytical powers are at once affectionate and insightful. The Middle Eastern way of life, with its emphasis on family and community interdependence instead of independence, its Islamic tradition of courtesy and hospitality, and its foundation of religion woven into every aspect of daily living, is something few in the secular West seem to appreciate.

Indeed, the Middle East division of the State Department as well as Western Think Tanks and Islamic Studies seminars would benefit greatly if The Butterfly Mosque were required reading.

Her candor is both refreshing and thoughtfully intelligent, and her bravery in forging a common ground, a space in which to live with her husband and within Islam the way her heart beckoned, is to glimpse what is left unsaid, but there between the lines--those that accept their calling and follow their heart are on the Divine path, no matter their religion.

If you have not yet read this wise and intimate memoir, buy a copy now, or order it online here, or check it out of your local library. Willow's is a life worth knowing.

Highly Recommended!
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant! 20 May 2010
By W. Ali - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Willow's honest and uplifting memoir "Butterfly Mosque" is living proof that an individual can maintain fidelity both to one's American and Muslim roots without mutual exclusivity or an "internal" clash of civilizations. Instead, Willow's "unholy" juxtaposition of both worlds, as brilliantly told in this memoir, is in fact a successful modern marriage of fluidity, cultural awareness, and open-mindedness that embraces--not demonizes--both Muslims and the West as critical foundations for her spiritual journey.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Inspiring! 18 Jun. 2010
By GodivaFoldsman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Willow's journey exemplifies both the complex interweaving of cultural, spiritual, and personal influences of religious faith -- a truth serum countering the mainstream media's one-dimensional portrayals -- and the sort of "Us/Them"-dissolving cultural experiences we need to read and see more of. Countless have fallen into the pit of Absolutes in their attempt to walk the tightrope of Religious and Cultural Understanding, but Willow's brave balancing act is as graceful and flowing as her writing style.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A compelling debut, although perhaps misclassified as memoir 7 July 2010
By noone - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The Butterfly Mosque is a lovely tale of an American woman's travel to Egypt and eventual marriage into a middle-class Egyptian family. The author is very intelligent and adept at making complex yet concise observations about life in a different culture. Much of the book is taken up by her day-to-day affairs and discovery of satisfaction in being a housewife: learning how to buy chickens in the market or becoming accustomed to differing gender relations such as not conversing with strange men and learning to accept and even welcome the protective attitude of men towards her. As such, it would probably be better classified as travel writing than memoir.

Her observations of American and Egyptian cultures are astute, however there are moments when she risks overgeneralizing, and is particularly harsh towards other Westerners. While perhaps deserved in some instances, she seems to fall into the phenomenon of those who have joined a new group and, having recently become aware of their past insensitivities and gaffs, are eager to distance themselves from others.

I agree with other reviews that note the limited information about her 'journey to Islam'. The reasons she gives for her conversion seem somewhat superficial and leave the reader wanting more. Given its classification as a memoir, one also longs for more information about her American and Egyptian family and her relationship to them. Her sketches of family members are tender yet minimal. As written everyone seems generally happy and supportive about her conversion, marriage, and decision to live in Egypt. While this may be so, one can't help but wonder about tensions behind the scenes. Of course in a memoir it's always a delicate balance between what to keep private and what to expose. Yet it is through allowing the reader to witness difficulty that we more closey identify with and better understand their plight.

This aside, Ms. Wilson adroitly positions herself as accessible and unthreatening enough to reach Americans with little knowledge of Islam or Islamic countries. From here she mounts himdefenses of her adopted culture and religion and dismantles Western stereotypes. The last chapters of the book feel a bit cobbled together, seeming to be expanded versions from various articles she has written. Overall, however, I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Islam or Egypt. Ms. Wilson is clearly a very talented writer and I look forward to her future publications.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A Gift 14 April 2012
By Marie E. Laconte - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Willow went to Egypt with nothing more than a teaching job and an urge to learn about Islam from the people who live it. Raised an atheist, she did not wrestle with the usual conundrum of whether or not Jesus was the son of God and a savior. She decided (without the help of a Muslim boyfriend) that the evidence for the existence of God not only held water, but held water within Islam.

Her story, however, does not focus upon this process, nor upon how she fell in love with an Egyptian and got married. Hers is a story that pulls the disparate elements of her life into a whole that makes sense. It's a multi-layered story that not only reveals who she is as an American, but who the Egyptians are, and how the enormous, but sometimes subtle differences between American and Egyptian culture really do clash in ways we cannot predict.

She writes authentically, honestly. I know this because I, too, married an Egyptian, and spent some time in Egypt. No American can write about living in Egypt without addressing the difficulties of daily life there, or the discomfort of trying to stay healthy in a polluted environment. At the same time, no one can deny the spirit of generosity and optimism that percolates through the national character of Egyptians. Egyptians themselves are what make Egypt livable and actually lovable.

This book is a gift to those who would venture into the waters of an intercultural life. It is especially good reading for those who have an interest in Egypt. It is not an apology, nor is it a explanation of, or justification for, the more controversial aspects of Islam. It is a memoir, not a textbook.
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