Title: Interpreter of Winds 

Author: Fairoz Ahmad

Publisher: Ethos Books ( 2019)

Interpreter of Winds is a collection of four stories which brings together Fairoz Ahmad’s experiences and observations while growing up as a Muslim. In a world where we are (sadly) divided by religion and united by our bitterness towards it all, these stories are an invigorating read. This short collection is a remarkable attempt to interpret faith and capture its challenges.

Ahmad is a young voice who is striving to be the change he wants to see in the world. Having co-founded an award-winning social enterprise Chapter W — which works at the intersection of women, technology and social impact, he has been awarded the Outstanding Young Alumni award by National University of Singapore for his work with the community. He believes that magic, wonder and richness of one’s history and culture, together with their quirks and eccentricities, could help narrow the gap in our understanding. His stories seem to be an amalgam to repair the breaks that whisper incompatibility through the world.

The book starts with the titular story, which is a beautiful ode to the cultural history of Southeast Asia with its brilliant depiction of Islam and its growth. With many stories interwoven together in the main narrative, this story takes us through the nineteenth century. Revisiting history of Malay Islands, the descriptions flow through the hall of thousand mirrors, the sphinx and talking camels. The conversations with wind are deep and lingering.  This story is strongly reminiscent of the Arabian Nights for many reasons. One is of course the concept of story within a story, second being the narrative technique, where one tells stories and the other just listens to them. Long after the stories are over, despite returning to the normal world, the listener is never the same again. Elements like a talking camel add to the magic and fantasy used to unfold the plot.

Read the full review on Kitaab.