Saturday, 5 May 2012

Book Review: My Beautiful Bahrain



As a Bahrainist, I was thrilled to read about the launch of a new book about Bahrain. 

My Beautiful Bahrain is a wonderfully uplifting and informative book consisting of essays, short stories and poems by Bahrain residents and citizens, that captures the many (non political) facets of Bahrain.  From the memories of 1970s Bahrain by long-time resident Maeve Kelynack Skinner to a comprehensive foodies' review by Anita Menon and Namit Bhatia, the book has 50 very diverse pieces by 40 writers, each of which stands individually in its own right, but collectively, tell the story of who Bahrain is.


Written with honesty and emotion, each piece that makes up the 340 pages- be it a research piece, a memoir or creative writing- conveys the love of its author to Bahrain, showing why, in their eyes, this country is beautiful.
My Beautiful Bahrain: cover art by Ella Prakash
Noteworthy extracts: 
  • My favourite thing about Bahrain, and the most beautiful thing about it to me, is that it just so happens to be the setting I am finding my own peace in. As I am choosing to live a happy and peaceful life full of creativity, growth and freedom, I am increasingly finding these qualities in my surroundings. Wherever I may live in the future, I hope to take this beauty with me.- Nadia Muijrers
  • There are many other young people like them in Bahrain. Serious, focused and yet exuberant and fun-loving. They represent the qualities that originally attracted me to Bahrain, and I pray that life doesn’t knock too many lumps out of their hopes and plans for the future. They and thousands of others - perhaps not quite so bright but with the same qualities - are the future of their country.- Steve Royston (works with Bahrain youth)
  • One day I met a stranger in a sleek modern designer cafĂ© in Bahrain and we fell into conversation. She had lived in Bahrain many years before when her family was young and had come back to visit her old friends. After talking about various places she had lived and travelled, I asked her what she thought was special about Bahrain. She did not say the history or the geography as I expected. Instead she said: “The thing that is special about Bahrain is the people themselves.They are special.”-  Bron Vanzino
  • My passport may not be of the red colour that Bahrainis hold and yes I am an Indian, but Bahrain is my home. I was born here, had my childhood here, went to school and grew up here, evolved into the person I am today and now that I am married, I am definitely looking forward to giving my family and my kids - when they arrive - the sweet and beautiful life that Bahrain provides. Maybe the one reason that I love it here is that sense of belonging, And when I do travel, I always look forward to that wonderful the feeling I get when my flight lands at the Bahrain International Airport. You know... the feeling of finally coming home.
It is indeed My Beautiful Bahrain.- Dilraz Kunnummal


Contributor Dilraz Kunnumul, author of  "Growing Up in Bahrain"
There are sooo many more great articles but if I share extracts from all of my favorites then we will go on forever.. click here to read more extracts and samples.


The book is compiled and edited by 3-year Brit Bahrain resident Robin Barratt, and the consulting editor is Bahraini Dina Fakhro.   Many of the contributors are members of the Bahrain Writer's Circle.  My only two criticisms of the book are that in the introduction, written by Mr Barratt, he talks about what he likes and dislikes abut Bahrain.  This seems to conflict with the spirit and message of the other articles, although he does qualify this by saying: "Good, bad, ugly, pretty, annoying, indifferent, whatever you like - or dislike - about Bahrain, all together it is nevertheless undeniably a brilliant, exciting, unique and most would say beautiful place to live. I love it here, and many others love it here too."  


The second criticism is that most of the contributors are expats, and I totally understand why, but I would have liked to see more contributions from Bahrainis, speaking from their experience about traditions, grandma stories, etc...  Maybe the sequel to this edition can cover that .. 


I think the concept of the book is a great one! And at a time when we perhaps need to connect with Bahrain more than any other, this is the perfect way to get back in touch with our commonalities, which ultimately, bind us together so much more than our differences.



Editor of My Beautiful Bahrain, Robin Barratt
 Information: My Beautiful Bahrain is being launched tonight and can be purchased at the following stockists. It is priced at BD 5 and its ISBN is 978-99901-37-47-7.


The Bahrain Writers Circle can be contacted via:  T: +973 383 57801; E: BWC@BahrainWritersCircle.com


Verdict: 2 thumz up. And a very special thank you to the editor for letting me review this in time for the book's launch. Wish it all the best. 

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