Mooz-lum," written and directed by Qasim Basir. It is the coming of age story of a Muslim American college freshman, set against his strict upbringing (told in flashbacks) and the events of 9/11. The film is compelling, although not exactly subtle. For me, the characters weren't as nuanced as they could have been--the good Muslims were really good and the bad non-Muslims were really bad.Recently, I watched the indie film "
It wasn't the lack of nuance in that (despicable) character that struck me, but the fact that Mr. Basir, who has admitted that the film is partly autobiographical rendered such a portrayal at all. He was asked about that choice in an interview on NPR. About why, in a political climate that often demonizes Muslims, he went there.
Mr. Basir's response? He wanted to tell an honest story.
There are people who would disagree, who think that to air a community's dirty laundry is to work a treason against that community. Or those who think that it can be told, but just, please, not right now.
Those people probably wouldn't like the novel I'm currently querying. Which, by the way, I think of as a positive portrayal of a couple of strong, modern Muslim American women. Unlike many media depictions, they are actors in their lives and not victims.
Still, I got some not entirely unexpected feedback. "It's like you're telling secrets," one person said in response to Chapter 11. And even though I understood the comment--the chapter includes a scene at a mosque where some conservative people chastise one of my characters--all I could think is wait until you get to Chapter 44.
I understand the impulse to prevent piling on and the fear that people will only focus the bad, and ignore the good. I get that. But to pen something that only shows the good--in a person or a community or a country--is not a novel. It's propaganda.
And who wants to read that?