Azazeel by Youssef Zeidan is an unusual book. It’s rather hard to describe. I”ll start with a quote from the back cover:
“Set in 5th century AD, Azazeel is the exquisitely crafted tale of a Coptic monk’s journey from Upper Egypt to Alexandria and then Syria during a time of massive upheaval in the early Church.”
While at times the book seems to go into a lot of detail regarding Christian theology, it is actually a historical novel about someone grappling with very universal questions, ranging from why is it so difficult for people of one religion to tolerate people who believe in another one, to why shouldn’t women be educated and influential. Also there’s quite a bit about why should monks have to stay away from women, but that’s not a universal issue. Hint, there are most certainly encounters with women in this book!
The book begins slowly but the pace picks up.
Reading about how the author’s book was received in Egypt, by Moslems and Copts (written by the translator into English) is fascinating.
Horsey by Leah Eini is completely different. It is a lighthearted engaging fable. She takes the basic storyline of “girl waiting for the man of her dreams to come riding by on his horse and rescue her” and gives it a feminist, funny and very horselike twist (if I say more about the twist I’ll ruin the book). She plays with every possible phrase related to horses (O.K, I’m probably exaggerating. Many phrases). The book, written in Hebrew, takes place partly on a farm in Israel and partly in El Paso, Texas and the characters are larger than life. It was a good read for when I couldn’t sleep….