Monday, May 28, 2012

Osama Wazan's The Last Moderate Muslim

Not long ago I met Osama Wazan, author of the novel The Last Moderate Muslim. He said he cried as he wrote parts of it, which I can imagine. It is a coming-of-age story during the Lebanese civil war. The main character, a boy named Ziad, sees terrible atrocities committed by both Christians and Muslims and tries to come to grips with his Muslim faith, his family, and his country. What a great book.

As the title suggests, ultimately it is a call for moderation, but Ziad has experienced his own feelings of intense religious fervor and hatred toward non-Muslims so that message does not come off as naive. Rather, it is a clear-eyed view of someone who looks pragmatically at what extremism on all sides actually achieves. Lebanon was ripped up, its population alternatively fled and killed each other, corruption flourished and the normal opportunities afforded young people were hard to find or non-existent (Ziad, for example, goes to college late because of the war, then finds the university periodically closed because of violence).

Unfortunately, it will likely also leave you feeling pessimistic about the outcomes of current Middle Eastern civil wars (or, indeed, almost any civil war). In the novel, Ziad is one of the few people who can overcome the true horror of war. It would be no easy thing.


Donna Gleason,  9:17 PM  

I met Osama at a book signing and was awed by his emotional story - of writing the book, yes -but also of his
Life. He was apologetic about the realism in his life story - but his sad eyes lit up when he smiled as he told of becoming an American citizen , with a "six foot tall, 138 pound wife and two sons. His book warrants at least two readings. The first to learn of the vindictiveness and retribution that drives that society. The second to really listen to the story and get to know the characters. For me, this was indeed, a life changing book.

osiris 6:11 PM  

Wow! This book sounds incredible! I'll have to look for that one. Thanks for posting.

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