APU UAA Books of the Year selections

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Now entering its second year, the APU UAA Books of the Year program is pleased to announce the 2007-08 selections, The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra and The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood.The pairing of these books is designed to provide a nuanced perspective of religious extremism. Khadra's short novel depicts the effects of Taliban rule on two couples living in Afghanistan; Atwood's, the more generalized effects of fundamentalism. These readings are part of the ongoing "Engaging Controversy" initiative at the two campuses and will complement the "Engaging Muslims" activities being prepared for spring 2008.

The Swallows of Kabul is a very human story of two couples living under the strict rule of the Taliban. Written by Yasmina Khadra-an Algerian army officer writing under female pseudonym to avoid censorship-The Swallows of Kabul is an unrelentingly bleak portrayal of fundamentalist politics and society. The Handmaid's Tale, written by Margaret Atwood, is a modern classic, detailing a young woman's life in a dystopian society. The pairing of these books provides a strong teaching set for several different disciplines.

The 2007-08 Books of the Year theme is religion and politics. This topic was chosen to complement a large-scale community education project entitled "Meeting Islam: Engaging Muslim Beliefs, Cultures, Politics" which will begin this fall and run for nine months. Spurred by a generous gift to the Cardinal Newman Foundation at Alaska Pacific University (APU) and led by APU, this collaborative project involves many organizations, including two other Anchorage universities, UAA and Wayland Baptist; the Anchorage Museum of History and Art; the Loussac Library; Interfaith Council; Alaska Humanities Forum; World Affairs Council; Anchorage School District and many others. With the help of the Cardinal Newman Foundation, the project will bring to four nationally prominent Islamic scholars to Anchorage during Spring 2008.

For additional information about the Books of the Year program or the "Encountering Controversy" initiative, please visit http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/communitypartnerships/index.cfm.

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