Wednesday, June 02, 2010

"Agent Zigzag" and "I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced"

I recommend both these books. Agent Zigzag is a true WWII story of an English crook who is captured by the the Germans, volunteers to spy for them, is trained in sabotage and parachuted into England, betrays the Germans to the British, is sent back as a double agent, and then ends up in Norway where he falls in just goes on and on like that. If you liked the WWII parts of Cryptonomicon, you'll love this book. The characters seem like they're right out of the movies. (Indeed, many of the people involved in were spy novelists, including the creator of James Bond.)

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced is what it proclaims to be: the story of a young Yemeni girl married off in a cruel and horrible way. She manages to get to a courthouse and ask for a divorce and gets it. A truly harrowing depiction of the awful reality behind the phrase "child bride." It's the sort of tale that makes me want to impose my culture on other people. As always with these stories, for me the heartbreaking thing is how her own family put her into this hell, and how they refuse/are unable to help her when she begs them to take her back. How can her father and ex-husband not see the awful suffering they inflicted upon her?

I guess I can understand how one can be cruel to threatening outsiders, or to people distant from us, or to people who have hurt us. But a little girl in your own house? Is human empathy so easy to dispose of? What does that say about us as human beings?


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