Official Review: The Anteater and the Jaguar by Rayek Rizek

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NadineTimes10
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Official Review: The Anteater and the Jaguar by Rayek Rizek

Post by NadineTimes10 » 15 Nov 2017, 16:22

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Anteater and the Jaguar" by Rayek Rizek.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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As there is more than one side to any story, such is the case with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East. Author Rayek R. Rizek is an Arab Orthodox Christian and an Israeli-Palestinian-Arab citizen originally from Nazareth. He addresses the conflict in Israel and Palestine from a deeply personal perspective in his memoir, The Anteater and the Jaguar: Is This Our Destiny? A Story from the Oasis of Peace.

The Oasis of Peace is a community in the Middle East where Jews and Palestinians (Christians and Muslims) choose to live and work together in harmony. As someone who has lived and served there for decades, Rizek candidly explains the challenges his community faces. It’s a complex task to preserve and grow the Oasis of Peace, with members of different cultures and religions living against the backdrop of strife surrounding the area.

Yet, the author eloquently asserts that just as there is an art to war, there is an art to peace, and that art must be learned. He explains what he believes to be the Palestinians’ responsibility and gives ideas about how his people should now approach the longstanding conflict. Not only does Rizek describe his community, but he tells of his own background and also includes many details of the history of Israel and Palestine. Hence, the narrative here is rich with an illustration of the past as well as hope and actionable steps for the future.

Now, the memoir does have a certain potential weakness, depending on how the reader may perceive it. Naturally, maintaining a dispassionate or neutral tone over such a serious subject would be unrealistic when the story is so personal to the storyteller. Moreover, an author’s attempt to be completely dispassionate would likely water down a human story that should evoke human emotion. Still, there were times when I wasn’t sure of the author’s tone.

He repeatedly emphasizes how casting blame or playing “the blame game” in the midst of contention is unproductive. Yet, the tone beneath bits of the writing seems somewhat accusatory. As the book’s overall message and the tone accompanying it seem to clash now and then, it could potentially undermine the strength of the message to a degree. Also, on a minor note, the author has a tendency to be redundant at times, especially toward the ending chapters of the memoir. He has extended moments of reflection in places, and sometimes he asks the same questions or makes the same points he already made earlier in the book.

Nevertheless, the memoir gives a clear, compelling, and inspiring case for peace, empathy, and human equality. Therefore, I give The Anteater and the Jaguar a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I’d recommend it to nonfiction and memoir readers with an interest in cultural and national reconciliation and the quality of life for fellow human beings.

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Post by kandscreeley » 16 Nov 2017, 08:21

Sounds like an interesting memoir. You are right. I don't think something that is so highly personal can be completely unbiased. Though, it does seem like the author did his best. Thanks for the review.
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Post by Abu Talha » 16 Nov 2017, 09:14

Awesome book

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Post by Quinto » 16 Nov 2017, 11:26

An insightful memoir to a difficult conflict. I think the author has expressed himself well.

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Post by NadineTimes10 » 16 Nov 2017, 15:48

kandscreeley wrote:Sounds like an interesting memoir. You are right. I don't think something that is so highly personal can be completely unbiased. Though, it does seem like the author did his best. Thanks for the review.
You're welcome! This is the second memoir I've read about this issue, and, yes, writing about it would include some frustration, to say the least, when it isn't just an "issue" to the writer, but it's his reality. I'm thankful to find authors speaking up to give western folks like me :) insight into what that reality is and what might be done about it.

-- Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:04 pm --
Quinto wrote:An insightful memoir to a difficult conflict. I think the author has expressed himself well.
He has indeed expressed himself well. He didn't write assuming the reader would already have a lot of facts about the situation. Even though I'm not unfamiliar with the conflict, I appreciate how the author has given enough history/background to make the narrative clear.

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Post by Mercy Bolo » 17 Nov 2017, 09:44

This is a touchy subject that affects a lot of people. I agree with you that being impartial in such a situation is difficult especially when the issue hits so close to home.
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Post by Gunnar Ohberg » 19 Nov 2017, 05:44

Finally! A memoir on this site that sounds both deserved (what an interesting life!) and well-executed. I felt drawn to this book as soon as I read the title, a testament to the importance of finding the right title for your work. I love the fearlessness in even attempting to discuss such a controversial topic, and the hang-ups you had with the novel don't seem like they would detract me from giving the book a perusal. Thank you for the review!

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Post by NadineTimes10 » 19 Nov 2017, 15:53

Gunnar Ohberg wrote:Finally! A memoir on this site that sounds both deserved (what an interesting life!) and well-executed. I felt drawn to this book as soon as I read the title, a testament to the importance of finding the right title for your work. I love the fearlessness in even attempting to discuss such a controversial topic, and the hang-ups you had with the novel don't seem like they would detract me from giving the book a perusal. Thank you for the review!
You're welcome, and I hope you do give the book a perusal! :) A couple years ago, I read another memoir I found here, The Tears of Olive Trees by AbdulKarim Al Makadma. The book touches on a lot of the same issues, this time from the perspective of someone whose family had been exiled to Gaza, so I was immediately interested when I found The Anteater and the Jaguar.

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Post by kingslexasoh1000 » 19 Nov 2017, 17:31

Haven't reviewed this book yet

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Post by Folasade Adeniji » 20 Nov 2017, 04:25

Nice review.

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Post by Kalin Adi » 20 Nov 2017, 22:16

When we see, hear and live the situation, it's easier to express our point of view. Perhaps it is our right to do do. Although I understand that the author might be biased because of what he has seen and experienced, I believe the reader has to decide what to agree and/or disagree as usual. Interesting memoir! Thanks for the review!

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Post by Mtsweni Nelsy » 21 Nov 2017, 07:36

Awesome review, and nice intro! The book sounds interesting...about Muslims and Christians living together. Thanks for the review.

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Post by NadineTimes10 » 25 Nov 2017, 21:57

Kalin Adi wrote:When we see, hear and live the situation, it's easier to express our point of view. Perhaps it is our right to do do. Although I understand that the author might be biased because of what he has seen and experienced, I believe the reader has to decide what to agree and/or disagree as usual. Interesting memoir! Thanks for the review!
I've heard it said before that no two readers ever read the same book, since no two people are going to read it all with the same eyes, minds, assumptions, personal experiences, imagination, etc. It is indeed up to readers to decide if they agree with an author, and why. :)

-- Sat Nov 25, 2017 6:59 pm --
Mtsweni Nelsy wrote:Awesome review, and nice intro! The book sounds interesting...about Muslims and Christians living together. Thanks for the review.
Thank you and you're welcome! The more I read on this subject, the more concerned/interested I become.

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