Author: Ameen Rihani
Khalid and his faithful friend Shakib emigrate to the United States, then return to Lebanon. Their story provides perspective on the New York immigrant experience as well as the rapidly changing Arab world of the era. With the repressive Ottoman Empire in long, slow decline and the dilemmas presented by Western influence, Khalid's world reflects centuries' old cultural conflicts still alive and well a hundred years later: East/West, New/Old, Science/Spirit, Muslim/Christian, Heart/Soul. Rihani's language is genuinely stunning. If all one wants is to lie back and marvel at its beauty, there's plenty to enjoy.
But it's not what I want. I wish to be so caught up in a book that I forget I'm reading. I long to be transported, rather than dazzled. I willingly concede The Book of Khalid's great literary merit. But I'm glad to be able to move onto something else.