D. J. Murphy is an intoxicating writer who showcases his talent in this debut novel that is part fiction and part true story.
A Thousand Veils
After reading the first paragraph of A Thousand Veils, you will come to realize as I did, that this writer has a brilliant gift of creative language and deep emotional feelings. I was unconsciously glued to every word and I was compelled to read the paragraph repeatedly as if in a trance. Often throughout the book, I would stop and find myself rereading sentences, paragraphs so eloquently written, once was just not enough. D. J. Murphy is an intoxicating writer who showcases his talent in this debut novel that is part fiction and part true story.
The book is about a woman he calls Fatima Shihabi who grew up with four brothers, her favorite being Omar. Fatima was educated as were her four brothers a luxury not always presented to woman in her country. Fatima showed an early interest in expressing her thoughts and opinions through poetry. Her brother Omar convinced her that she had a gift to share. With his encouragement Shihabi continued writing.
When she comes of age she is required to don the black veil known in Iraq as the abayah. Fatima resists this the figurative and literal representation of the abayah as by nature she is rebellious and free spirited. The black draped cloak that envelopes the female form is a symbol of Muslim womanhood and When her father describes the black draped cloak enveloping the female form as a symbol of Muslim womanhood and its religious and cultural necessity, Fatima acquiesces. Once she disappears behind the veil she immediately notices the difference in her role as a female in her society. The veil, the abayah, will present many contrasts in her lifetime. It will be hated and loved, confining and liberating, sexually alluring and yet asexual, life altering and life saving. Perhaps this is why the author called his book A Thousand Veils.
Fatima Shihabi writes from her heart and soul about life in Iraq during the rein of Sadam Hussein. She believes she is careful when writing her poetry to remain neutral, but realizes that the middle ground is impossible. Words twisted, intentions misconstrued, a threat to the regime, Fatima becomes a wanted, hunted woman. When ultimately caught she suffers severe inhumane torture, unspeakable experimental interrogation techniques and left near death.
She realizes she must leave Iraq to survive and save her daughter. It is at this time she first decides to remove her abayah (the veil) and escape to Saudi Arabia. When she arrives at the airport she is detained by the Saudi guards and pulled aside. What happens to Fatima will have you nail biting for her safety, weeping for her suffering and praying for her life. Given a talent for intense lyrical poetic communication and the ability to convey meaning through the printed word this petite survivor is up against a tyrant with a tremendous reach. Her story is a true to life adventure.
It has been weeks since I finished this book. I honestly, stopped everything I was doing to read it in one sitting. It is a deeply moving drama with romance and intrigue. I was essentially in a trance and couldn’t break away until I found out what happened to Fatima. D.J. Murphy has written one of the years ten best books on my list for 2008. I have since read over many chapters, and hate to pass this book on to Book Crossings. However, the story was a gift to me and now it is time to gift it to someone else. Keep your eye out for the copy that will be starting out somewhere in Connecticut. Otherwise, buy the book or borrow a copy of A Thousand Veils. You will thank D.J. Murphy a thousand times.
My sincere thanks to everyone who has reached out to send hugs and condolences to me. I was touched by so many who sent caring messages either by blog or email. It means so much to me to have such awesome cyber blogger friends. The book A Thousand Veils is so appropriate a tribute to how precious life is. Make each moment count. Best to all....Donna (Wisteria)
I was so touched by all of you. Donna (Wisteria)