Now when I was asked by James Scanlan at Saqi Books if I would like a copy of Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic edited by Lynn Gaspard in return for an honest review, the title so caught my imagination I had to say yes!
Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic was published by Saqi on 17th July 2017 and is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here.
Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic
‘Bursting with creativity, wit and intelligence’ Brian Eno
How can you tell if your neighbour is speaking Muslim?
Is a mosque a kind of hedgehog?
Can I get fries with that burka?
You can’t trust the media any longer, but there’s no need to fret: Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic provides you with the answers.
Read this book to learn how you too can spot an elusive Islamist. Discover how Arabs (even 21-year-old, largely innocuous and totally adorable ones) plant bombs and get tips about how to interact with Homeland Security, which may or may not involve funny discussions about your sexuality.
Commissioned in response to the US travel ban, Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic includes cartoons, graffiti, photography, colouring in pages, memoir, short stories and more by 34 contributors from around the world. Provocative and at times laugh-out-loud funny, these subversive pieces are an explosion of expression, creativity and colour.
Contributors: Hassan Abdulrazzak, Leila Aboulela, Amrou Al-Kadhi, Shadi Alzaqzouq, Chant Avedissian, Tammam Azzam, Bidisha, Chaza Charafeddine, Molly Crabapple, Carol Ann Duffy, Moris Farhi, Negin Farsad, Joumana Haddad, Saleem Haddad, Hassan Hajjaj, Omar Hamdi, Jennifer Jajeh, Sayed Kashua, Mazen Kerbaj, Arwa Mahdawi, Sabrina Mahfouz, Alberto Manguel, Esther Manito, Aisha Mirza, James Nunn, Chris Riddell, Hazem Saghieh, Rana Salam, Karl Sharro, Laila Shawa, Bahia Shehab, Sjón, Eli Valley, Alex Wheatle.
My Review of Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic
With an eclectic mix of entries from colouring in through photos to essays, poetry and fiction, a book endorsed by Brian Eno immediately gets my attention!
I had no real idea what I was getting when my copy of Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic arrived and to be totally honest, I’m not sure what I’ve just read. I think I’m too ignorant of the Islamic culture to understand fully all the implications of some of the entries, but I still found this an intriguing and entertaining read. Saying that, I think the book achieves what it sets out to do and raises awareness and questions in those, like me, who don’t really think deeply about Islam and what it means in today’s society. I also think that my response of ‘so what?’ to many of the pieces, because I felt they could be true of any human being, not just someone Islamic, was also the whole point. Islam has been so demonised in recent years that many see anyone from an Islamic background as a potential threat rather than another human being! Joumana Haddad’s piece on keeping her son quiet on the Paris metro really brought that home, as did Karl Sarro’s entry on getting a green card to work in America as I’ve been through that process myself and as a white British woman, found it equally as ridiculous.
I didn’t enjoy the more overtly political writings as much as the more personal ones. The essay I enjoyed the most was Amrou Al-Kadhi’s about being a drag queen. He certainly undermines the stereotyped suicide bomb wearing terrorist view of his ethnicity!
I found Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic interesting, engaging and occasionally too self-consciouly politically correct or politically angry but I feel my responses arise more out of my own ignorance than the intrinsic worth of the book. I urge others to read it and form their own views. It certainly makes you think!
About Lynn Gaspard
Lynn Gaspard is the publisher of Middle-East specialist press Saqi Books. Shortlisted for the Independent Publishers Guild Young Publisher of the Year Award in 2013, Lynn Gaspard is a trustee of the Shubbak Festival and sits on the English PEN Writers in Translation Committee.
You can follow Lynn on Twitter.