Book Review: Jehadi Jane by Tabish Khair
- ISIN: 9780143426424
- Genre: Fiction / Indian writing
- Publishers: Penguin Books India
- Price: Rs. 299/- (I got this book from the publisher for a review)
High-school best friends Ameena and Jamilla couldn’t be more different: while one smokes cigarettes in their school playground, the other is a member of her mosque’s discussion group in suburban Yorkshire. When heartbreak and doubt leave Ameena bereft and alone, she turns to Jamilla’s beloved Allah for solace and purpose.
It is then that both girls find themselves entranced by a powerful Internet preacher—Hejjiye, a woman running an orphanage-home in support of the men fighting in the name of jihad. Leaving their families and country behind, they run to join the Islamic State in Syria to serve a cause they unquestioningly believe in.
However, things begin to change for the worse once Ameena marries Hassan, a jihadi leader, and suddenly Jamilla begins to see the world that she left everything for differently. Getting out is almost impossible, but there is one way. Will the girls choose a path which might change their lives beyond recognition forever?
Heart-wrenching, masterful and stunningly powerful, Jihadi Jane paints a vivid picture of militant-brides operating around the world and the terrifying cost of religious fanaticism.
About the author
Tabish Khair was born and educated in Bihar, India. He worked in Delhi as a Staff Reporter until his late twenties and is now a professor at Aarhus University, Denmark. Winner of the All India Poetry Prize, his novels have been shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize (Hong Kong), the Hindu Best Fiction Prize and the Crossword Vodafone Literature Awards (India), the Encore Award (UK) and for translation prizes in Denmark and France.
Talking about this book at such a time when everyday the newspapers have headlines that speak only about some or the other terrorist attack, does make you give this book more than one glance. And after reading the blurb you are surely hooked onto it, that is if the cover missed catching your attention.
Reading this book was more like an eye opening experience for me. There are a lot of facts that are presented in the media but then as we all know there are many more aspects to it than which are reported. This book talks about those aspects. For me this book is much more than just about terrorism. It is about friendship, love, religion, belief, family and most importantly about humanity.
Every day in the morning when I read those news articles there are a lot of questions in my mind which I cannot search on Google for obvious reasons. But this book has it all. The author has not only answered my questions but has also put it up in such a terrific detailing that there is no further scope for any more questions to arise. Narrated by Jamilla, the core story revolves around Ameena. There are many moments in the book when I gasped in fright and excitement, not to forget the moments when I shed copious tears for both the girls. It is heart rendering at the same time heart breaking.
The characters are very well defined and so is the background of their circumstances which leads to them ending up in Syria. My heart bled for Syria more after reading this book, it felt all the more real and relatable. Almost half way through the novel I was wondering about the ending and by the time I had reached the second last chapter I had already created one perfect ending in my mind too. But the novel's ending was mind-blowing in every possible way. The tension so palpable and their fears cutting right through those words and pages. This book was a nail biting read and for all the right reasons.I am going to re-read it again not only for the thrill it gave but also as a reminder of the harsh reality I am surrounded with today's times.
Strongly recommended read- This book is a masterpiece born out of perfect amalgamation of research and facts mixed liberally with fiction. It is as close to reality as possible and still leaves you pondering if that actually happened to someone.
This book is like Makai Wada- perfect for the season in every manner!