Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What is James Hider reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: James Hider, The Times Middle East correspondent and author of The Spiders of Allah: Travels of an Unbeliever on the Frontline of Holy War.

His entry begins:
World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstler

I was recently traveling in the Peruvian Amazon and picked up a book at a scientific research station called World Made By Hand, by James Howard Kunstler, a writer I’d never heard of. It was one of those totally unexpected surprises that turned out to be the best book I’ve read all year. It is a beautifully written tale of a small community in New York state after a series of vaguely alluded to disasters, including (rather presciently since it was written a few years ago) a disastrous Mexican flu. Kunstler vividly creates an entire society, bringing to life the ruined and patched-up little town with its characters struggling to cope with the abrupt absence of modernity. The characters are convincingly drawn, little by little, through the daily detail of all the chores they have to accomplish with no electricity, machinery, and with the tension of violence in an unregulated society always lurking not far from sight.

I was fascinated at the way this futuristic parable is more of a...[read on]
Hider was born in London in 1968, and studied at Bristol University and the London School of Economics. He first visited the Middle East as a kibbutz volunteer while still a teenager. He started working as a journalist in Prague in 1991, has since worked as a journalist in the Balkans, the Middle East, Latin America and the United States. He is currently The Times Middle East correspondent and lives in Jerusalem.

Among the praise for The Spiders of Allah: Travels of an Unbeliever on the Frontline of Holy War:
“Thank God (although after reading this book you might stop believing in a higher power) for James Hider. After working as a reporter on all the major frontlines of the War on Terror, he has produced a masterpiece that strips away the propaganda and prejudice that blights analysis of the first global conflict of the 21st Century. It is a work of great authority written with wit and wisdom.”
—Tim Butcher, author of Blood River

“James Hider offers a new voice in the literature of the Middle East: His is delightfully fresh and very funny. It takes a brave and confident writer to take on so many taboos, but Hider does it with the confidence that comes from years in the field and from a deep, authoritative historical and cultural knowledge of Israel, Iraq and the region.”
—Matt McAllester, author of Beyond the Mountains of the Damned
Visit James Hider's website and blog.

Writers Read: James Hider.

--Marshal Zeringue