Letters to a Young Muslim by Omar Saif Ghobash [in Library Journal]
Now older than his 43-year-old father was when he died in a 1977 terrorist attack, Omar Saif Ghobash writes his Letters to his two young sons as a matter of permanent record.
As the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to Russia (Ghobash’s father was Arab, his mother Russian), the pentalingual Ghobash records from a uniquely broad perspective about being Muslim in a post-9/11 world. He’s his own ideal narrator, with traces of his Oxford-educated British accent lending further gravitas for American ears.
His first chapter’s opening endearments addressed to his sons, “Habeebie Saifie and Habeebie Abdullah,” immediately, warmly underscore his family devotion. Ghobash directs the chapters that follow at the older, now teenage Saif, always prefacing his words with “Habeebie” and “My sweet.” Although Ghobash names only his sons, he undoubtedly speaks to a larger audience: “I want my sons’ generation of Muslims to realize that they have the right to think and decide what is right and what is wrong, what is Islamic and what is peripheral to their faith.”
Verdict: Libraries already stocked with Ta-Nahesi Coates’s epistolary Between the World and Me – also read by its author and certain to draw parallels – should acquire Letters to provide alongside.