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My Name is Salma Hardcover – 7 May 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (7 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038561098X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385610988
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 22 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,071,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Told in the first person, the discontinuous narrative of Salma's life is as well constructed as a mosaic in which each tile is lovely in itself but helps to create a whole that is breathtaking. As Salma's life moves toward its inevitable climax, readers will be transfixed. Strongly recommended for all literary collections.
-- Andrea Kempf, The Library Journal --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

As contemporary as today's headlines and as timeless as love and hate - a young Muslim asylum-seeker in England runs from a brother who wants to commit honour killing --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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4.3 out of 5 stars
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This beautiful written and finely crafted work details the life of Salma, a Bedouin woman born into an extreme patriarchal society, where honour killings are the norm. When she commits the crime of not only falling in love, but also becoming pregnant outside of wedlock the man walks away scot free while she is forced to flee, initially to prison, the only real place of safety in order to have her child. Once she is born, her daughter is immediately taken from her. Salma though stays in prison for her own safety, eventually being forced again for her safety across the border to Lebanon and later to the UK, where she finds safety in a hostel for other women fleeing for various reasons.

There she befriends Parvin, a Pakistani woman fleeing for different and yet similar reasons, for both are borne from the idea that men can do with women as they please - in Parvin's case, the threat of an arranged marriage. The two women forge an immediate bond as Parvin helps Salma to find her feet in this alien new land, so different to what she has known.

The sense of guilt and conflict though never goes away - Salma believes on some deep level that she is a damaged woman who has brought her troubles on herself and attempts to prove this to herself by sleeping with a myriad of strange men. She also attempts to rectify her wickedness by helping her alcoholic landlady, refusing to press charges even when she is drunkenly attacked and needs stitches in her arm.

Although she does eventually find happiness with her University Professor and the birth of their own son, Salma is haunted by dreams of her lost daughter and desperate to go back.
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Format: Hardcover
In her third novel, Fadia Faqir explores the themes of double consciousness and displacement in the postcolonial era. My Name is Salma is also an investigation of a Levantine's cross-cultural experience. Faqir foregrounds a minor incident from her previous novel Pillars of Salt to build her new novel. Salma gets pregnant out of wedlock and is consequently taken into prison as a protective measure to prevent her family from killing her. Salma gives birth to a baby girl who is instantly taken away from her. With the help of a Lebanese nun, she is adopted by an English nun and given the British nationality.

In the UK, the patriarchal oppression Salma has experienced in the Levant takes a new shape. As Faqir describes herself in "Stories from the House of Songs," Salma becomes "a hyprid, forever assessing, evaluating, accommodating" (53). In more than one occasion, she emphasizes her unworthiness, slamming herself as a "trash" (18). Elsewhere, she says "I deserve to be mocked, beaten, even killed" (38). Her sense of fragmentation becomes even a part of her daily life: she tells Parvin in their first encounter that she has several names "'Many names I. Salma and Sal and Sally'" (91); she perceives herself as "a sinner pretending to be Muslim, but was really an infidel, who would never be allowed to enter the mosque" (41). She expresses her alienation from the Exeter society by her inability to digest cream tea; the city's famous offering (20).

Salma is in a constant psychological abyss, believing that "[i]f she kept silent, [she] would slip slowly out of [her] like a snake shedding her old skin" (52).
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Format: Hardcover
First of all, if you have read the blurb on the inside of the dust jacket, you needn't read the book as this summarises the story completely, bar the action of the final page. It's a great shame that the publishers felt the need to do this as it detracts hugely from the narrative tension if 280 pages in, you still know what's coming up. Hopefully, the paperback edition will correct this.

"My Name is Salma" is a novel predominantly about women and the clash between the modern Western view of women's rights and the traditional honour-bound Bedouin value system. Set between the Levant and Exeter, the Salma of the title, is a young woman running for her life after becoming pregnant out of wedlock and dishonouring her family and her tribe. Through a series of under-explained events, Salma ends up in Exeter trying to forge a new life with a new identity.

Faqir wrestles with some big and noble themes here - women, feminism, sexism, migrant dislocation, racism, alcoholism, religious hypocrisy and identity to name but a few - and by blending real time with memory, she creates a woman who remains very much a prisoner of her past no matter how much physical distance she covers. All of this is interesting and adds to the literature that chronicles the immigrant experience. However, Faqir is so involved with her themes, with her downtrodden, Bedouin victim that she fails to create a genuinely coherent story. The action hops around between past and present but as the novel progresses, the leaps through time become increasingly erratic leaving significant events in Salma's life underdeveloped and under-explained. It feels as if Faqir became so involved in her portrait of the isolated broken woman that she lost interest in the story.
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