By Deborah Baker
*A 2011 nationwide publication Award Finalist*
A spellbinding tale of renunciation, conversion, and radicalism from Pulitzer Prize-finalist biographer Deborah Baker
What drives a lady raised in a postwar ny urban suburb to transform to Islam, abandon her state and Jewish religion, and embody a lifetime of everlasting exile in Pakistan? The Convert, a finalist for the nationwide ebook Award and a Publishers Weekly Best publication of 2011, tells the gripping tale of ways Margaret Marcus of Larchmont grew to become Maryam Jameelah of Lahore.
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Additional info for The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism
This led my mom to sign up Betty and me in years of sessions within the Reformed Liberal Sunday tuition at Temple Israel in October 1943. i used to be 9 years outdated sooner than I discovered whatever approximately Judaism yet as soon as i started analyzing concerning the tragic background of the Jews, i used to be not able to forestall. yet within the very years while the Jews of Europe have been soreness untold horrors by the hands of the Nazis, my classmates at Temple Israel have been horsing round or analyzing Superman comics hidden of their prayer books. i discovered this disgraceful. In my biblical studies textbooks I realized that either Arabs and Jews claimed Abraham as their patriarch and that the Arabs had provided the Jews sanctuary from Christian persecution in medieval Spain. There, less than Arab rule and defense, the Jews skilled a golden age of literature. The Oriental Jews of Cairo and Palestine, and the Sephardic Jews of Granada, me excess of the hypocritical Reformed Jews of Westchester. while my English instructor requested which poets I beloved to learn, i discussed the turn-of-the-century Hebrew poet Chaim Nachman Bialik. Bialik wrote gloomy poems in regards to the Russian pogroms and exhorted the Jews to get up in self-defense. From the best way my instructor checked out me, I’m yes she had by no means heard of him. evidently, her concept of a poet used to be Keats or Shelley. My mom and dad consistently attempted to fake we have been no assorted from the Christians, however the Christians didn’t see it that method. For a time, i made a decision I’d relatively were born an Orthodox Jew. They, a minimum of, by no means apologized for being Jews. At domestic I pored over the Saturday night submit, vacation, and glance magazines, ignoring the spreads of Hollywood starlets in swimsuits to stick to the growth of the conflict in Europe. whilst the German military invaded Russia in 1941, my mom concealed the lifestyles journal factor that confirmed the terrible photos of frozen Russian and German infantrymen, bloodied and distorted, mendacity within the snow. After the battle, she concealed the dreadful images of the focus camps. yet I consistently came upon them. I learn all of the newspaper bills of the way the Nazis tortured and gassed the Jews. I had nightmares for years in a while yet I studied the pictures and not forgot a specific thing. * * * Quest for the reality looked to be a suite of Peggy Marcus’s thank-you notes to her grandparents and homesick letters from summer season camp. There are long missives addressed to her sister, Betty, on the college of Michigan, and letters to her mom and dad away on Caribbean vacation trips and business journeys. She additionally incorporated copies of her expansive letters to well-liked Islamic leaders, just like the one above describing her ancestry, upbringing, and intellectual evolution, mapping every one activate the trail to Islam. Taken jointly, the gathering bargains a self-portrait of her early life and coming-of-age up to date Margaret Marcus units off for Pakistan to develop into, extra absolutely, Maryam Jameelah. The letters painting a reasonably ordinary suburban early life. Herbert and Myra Marcus had supplied their daughters a house that, like the United States itself, seemed to be a essentially benevolent and sunny position.