Sunday, January 31, 2016

Among the reasons I choose to emphasize contemporary popular culture in this blog ...

... is my ongoing protest against the abominable "cultural cleansing" undertaken by ISIS zombies. Destroyers of libraries are not obeying the Prophet's (peace be upon him) numerous commands to respect and support learning.




Friday, January 29, 2016

Quotes of the Day

"Whatever we think about and thank about, we bring about." John F. Demartini


Paul Kantner, whom I knew in another century

Thinking of Paul Kantner, who passed on today. Driving force behind the Jefferson Airplane, a major architect of the soundscape of my youth.

Paul, Marty Balin, Jack Cassidy, Grace Slick and Spencer Dryden used to rehearse in the apartment upstairs from where my family lived in San Francisco in 1966 and 1967. That would make me five or six. I remember him as a quiet presence.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sweet Home Chicago

For my son David, who lives there. But why is Johnson talking about California? One theory is that both California and Chicago represented idealized, aspirational destinations, far from the brutal reality of the lethally racist Mississippi Delta.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Join the conversation on Facebook

You can visit the JIHADI: A LOVE STORY Facebook page by clicking here. All the latest updates and reviews, but only half the calories of this site.



Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Why I Will Continue Posting This Trump/Hitler Infographic Whether People Like It or Not

Catching some heat for this. Good. It's a national discussion that needs to happen.




I will continue to post this infographic, which I did not create, because mainstream media, with the notable exception of MONTEL WILLIAMS, seems to need reminding that:

1. Donald Trump is in fact a fascist.  If you think the word "fascist" is unfair and/or inappropriate because you believe "fascist" means "Synonymous with Adolf Hitler in terms of demonstrated capacity for genocide," then we disagree about the definition of "fascism." Here is what I meant.



2. Donald Trump is in fact using racism to rise to power.  If you disagree, please read this

3. Donald Trump has in fact proposed mass deportation.  If you disagree, please read this.

4. Donald Trump has indeed suggested, outrageously, that Muslims ought to wear special IDs.  If you disagree, please read this.

5. Donald Trump has in fact promised to make America great again.  If you disagree, please check his campaign slogan.

6. Donald Trump does in fact blame Muslims for America's problems. I am an American citizen overseas. Solely because of my religion, and for no other reason, Trump wants to keep me from coming back home. In so doing, he is blaming me (a Muslim), and he is blaming others of my faith, for problems we have not caused. That is an insult to me, to millions of Muslims, and to the Constitution. And yes, I take it personally and I reserve the right to talk about it.

If you still disagree with my decision that this infographic is important and relevant, please go read something else and we will both be happy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Spell my first name right, please, if you want a conversation

Y-U-S-U-F.

Listen. It's not all that difficult. It's completely phonetic. And I do think it's an appeal to basic courtesy to ask that you spell my name correctly if you want to engage with me online. I could be wrong, but I believe a majority of the people who get my name wrong, over and over and over again, are also, coincidentally or otherwise, the same people who challenge me for talking openly about fascism in the United States of America, which I have constitutional right to do. And will continue doing.

Anyway.

Three consonants: Y, S, and F.

Yankee, Sierra, Foxtrot.

One vowel. U. It shows up twice.

Uniform.

So.

Yankee. Uniform. Sierra. Uniform. Foxtrot.

Yusuf.

That's it. That's me.

It's not Yosef.

It's not Yusof.

It's not Youssef.

It's Yusuf.

Thanks.


#DumpTrump

Mainstream media needs to call this out clearly and repeatedly as a fascist movement.

That's what it is. Big crowds. Night rallies. Demonization of minorities.

What the hell is CNN waiting for? "Kristallnacht II: The Muslims"?


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Remind you of anyone?



As Der Donald ranted, a Muslim woman was hooted at, jeered, and escorted from a South Carolina rally. Her crime was wearing a shirt that read "Salaam -- I come in peace." And being, you know, Muslim. The crowd got a little charged up.

I am an American Muslim now overseas. 

As someone else Mr. Trump is targeting for political advantage, I have to say this: 

Something truly ugly is happening in my country, and he is in the middle of it. 

He needs to man up and withdraw from the race. This movement stinks of sulfur.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

JIHADI: A LOVE STORY -- "elevating the #thriller genre to a new level of provoking intelligence"

Thrilled about this crazy cool review of JIHADI: A LOVE STORY from Steve Wright!



Excerpt: 
"In the same way that I have enjoyed reading the likes of Kati Hiekkapelto deliver powerful social commentary within first rate crime novels, it is exciting to find Yusuf, and publishing stable mate Paul Hardisty, elevating the thriller genre to a new level of provoking intelligence."

WOW! Thank you, Steve!


Order it from Orenda Books!

Reviewers: Request a review copy!



Monday, January 4, 2016

Islamic Noir: A Literary Manifesto


This genre, which I appear to have all to myself just now, encompasses my debut novel JIHADI: A LOVE STORY, available from Orenda Books. I got here first, so I'm taking the first pass on the core principles of the movement.

No, I'm not joking. This really is a declaration of literary principles. Compare Dominic Stansberry's brilliant essay NOIR MANIFESTO, one pertinent passage of which appears below:


I am with Stansberry up to a point, but I draw a line at the amorality and anarchy inherent in words like "underworld" and "annihilation." My reboot for the purposes of Islamic Noir appears in the three propositions that follow. I have only included principles I tried to observe in writing my novel.

1. This world in which we find ourselves -- the "dunya" -- can be, and often is, a dark and fleeting thing. Although it is, in a final sense, illusory, our actions within it are what define us.

2. There is a point at which logic fails us in addressing certain crimes, contradictions, inequities, and shortcomings that are inevitable within the world in which we find ourselves. Such aspects of human experience demand a transcendent approach, an approach that is beyond rational engagement.


3. An Islamic perspective on this ongoing struggle is a valid and important contribution to the global coexistence conversation.



Click here for reviews of JIHADI: A LOVE STORY, the only novel in the genre (that I know of, anyway).





Sunday, January 3, 2016

Twelve facts, and one lie, about me




  • I made the shahada (testament of faith) and became a Muslim in 2003.
  • I have been to Saudi Arabia twice.
  • I made the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, in 2005.
  • I cowrote a book about the Quran for Alpha Books.
  • I wrote a book about Shakespeare that I am proud of but would like to update for the Internet era. It was published by For Beginners Books.
  • I wrote a book about the Beatles that doesn't need any updating. It was published by Harper Collins.
  • I wrote a book about Christianity that succeeded only in pissing people off, and that I wish I hadn't written. It was published by Darussalam.
  • I was in San Francisco during the so-called Summer of Love.
  • I had a crush on Grace Slick, the lead singer of the Jefferson Airplane, in 1967 and hung out with her on multiple occasions.
  • My play AN UNDIVIDED HEART was selected for a workshop production at the National Playwrights Conference.
  • I am a graduate of Brandeis University.
  • I wrote a short story in which a woman goes into labor in a landfill.
  • My novel JIHADI: A LOVE STORY, on which I worked for eight years, is available in ebook form from Orenda Books; the paperback comes out in February (in the UK, Ireland) and May (in the US).


Friday, January 1, 2016

JIHADI: A LOVE STORY: "Superb debut" "A modern classic" "A Booker Prize novel yet to be discovered"

Here's a rundown of the initial reaction to JIHADI: A LOVE STORY, on which I worked from mid-2007 to November of 2015. The book is now available from Orenda Books.



**

Edward F. Wilson, author of A VERY BRITISH ENDING, had this to say:

"An utterly fantastic tale ... a book for our time"

**




CrimeFictionLover gave the novel four stars and called it "a highly-original, engaging, and thought-provoking literary thriller."


**
Steve Wright had this to say:



"In the same way that I have enjoyed reading the likes of Kati Hiekkapelto deliver powerful social commentary within first rate crime novels, it is exciting to find Yusuf, and publishing stable mate Paul Hardisty, elevating the thriller genre to a new level of provoking intelligence."

And on Goodreads he wrote:


**
Publishers Weekly has weighed in, calling JIHADI: A LOVE STORY "smart and searing" -- this from the ABNA competition, where the book was a quarterfinalist.



Mari Hannah, author of THE SILENT ROOM, called the book "intelligent, intriguing, and moving in equal measure" and added this on Twitter:


**

YEAH! Magazine noted that "the quality of the writing is superb" and ran an interview.



**

Liz Barnsley wrote:


**

Tony Hill gave the book a great review that made me wonder whether I was dreaming:



**

Michelle Newby of TexasBookLover.com wrote:


**
Jeanette Hewitt wrote this Goodreads review:



**

The novel got a 4.5/5.0 review from Louise Hector: "Complex, compelling, and important ... captivating throughout ... the makings of a modern classic." 

**

Victoria Goldman called the book "intriguing, addictive, brutal, gripping, tragic and brilliant." And a snarky cat weighs in, too.)


And Richard Gibney wrote:




**


 Cal Moriarty called the novel "a modern classic":



And Louise Beech, author of the astonishing HOW TO BE BRAVE, wrote:


**



Some very nice words indeed came in from The Well Read One, Safie Maken Finlay, who called the novel "a superb debut." (I had the honor of beta reading Safie's amazing book THE SPEAR OF TIME.)


**

James, an Amazon customer, had this to say

**

Nasim Asl writes:

Although fictional, the experiences Toropov crafts are harrowingly realistic. As Liddell’s memoirs are contested by Firestone’s annotations, the truth becomes a fickle and morally ambiguous figure. Readers will find themselves gripped by this lack of clarity. Toropov seems to take pleasure in making his readers move between the mentalities of a diverse range of characters, forcing them to uncomfortably sympathise with characters that are, at their core, cruel and twisted as well as those who are victims of injustice.

It’s a scarring novel. Readers will be left constantly wondering and second-guessing both the reliability and veracity of the narrative, unsettled by an authorial voice that threatens to self-destruct at any moment. Populated by a range of characters from both the Islamic Republic and the USA, Toropov constantly flips alliances and questions the truth of what terrorism is within the novel. He plays with the emotions of his readers, taunting them with a lack of clarity before bombarding them with intricate detail. If you can keep up as the memoirs appear to unravel, and adjust to the complex and bold narrative innovations that Toropov manipulates, Jihadi is a novel that will haunt you.

Above all else, Toropov has created an incredibly original and engaging novel that offers a damning insight into the complex emotional and political situations that are currently building in the Middle East. Unsettlingly, his observations then look forward, revealing a glimpse into a future of terror that could be.



Ian Patrick wrote:

"Put down your phone and engage your brain with what is surely a Booker Prize novel yet to be discovered."



JIHADI: A LOVE STORY is available now from London's Orenda Books

If you'd like a review copy, please reach out to my publisher Karen Sullivan.

The Five Books I'm Reading, January Edition (Plus One)

Yes. I read multiple books simultaneously. So?

There is a Top Six now, which aberration from the norm I intend to make a New Year's tradition. All the links connect to Goodreads. Connect with me there!

THE HOLY QURAN (two translations, Irving and Yusuf Ali -- I move back and forth)

CONTEMPORARY FICTION (amazing collection of short stories from 1970 forward)

THE STAND (vast, enthralling Stephen King masterpiece)

TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES (scathing, exquisitely written Thomas Hardy indictment of social hypocrisy)

ANNA KARENINA (on audiobook -- I listen to this Tolstoy during walks)

THE SILENT ROOM (Mari Hannah's cool, gripping thriller -- loving it so far)