Title: God in Pink
Author: Hasan Namir
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press
Release Date: October 8th 2015
Genre(s): cultural, romance, religious
Page Count: 160
Reviewed by: LenaRibka
Heat Level: 0 flames out of 5
Rating: 2 stars out of 5
A revelatory novel about being queer and Muslim, set in war-torn Iraq in 2003. Ramy is a young gay Iraqi struggling to find a balance between his sexuality, religion, and culture. Ammar is a sheikh whose guidance Ramy seeks, and whose tolerance is tested by his belief in the teachings of the Qur’an. Full of quiet moments of beauty and raw depictions of violence, God in Pink poignantly captures the anguish and the fortitude of Islamic life in Iraq.
Homosexuality in Islam is a difficult topic. It HAS to be tragic, if the characters live in a strongly Muslim country. While reviewing such a book, it is difficult to separate myself from the political and religious matters and to focus only on the writing style and MCs.
Paragraph 175 (known formally as §175 StGB; also known as Section 175 in English) was a provision of the German Criminal Code from 15 May 1871 to 10 March 1994. It made homosexual acts between males a crime.
You got it? Comparing to Germany in 1994, Iraq of 2003 (and in the moment even worse) has a VERY long way to go. I am really sorry for all homosexual people who was born in a wrong country. But I am also sorry for all women who were born there. MCs name it traditions. I name it human rights abuses.
“After we were married, I told her that she could not eat at the same table as me. She said that when she was growing up, her family did not separate the men and women at meals, so it bothered her; I think it may still, but it is tradition passed down from my great-great-grandfather. We accept it for what it is. I cannot break with tradition.”
“One time she wanted to go out with her sister without a man to accompany them to protection. I didn’t allow it.”
“Choosing a wife based on a photograph alone is ridiculous, but I keep my opinion to myself. I realize that this is our tradition.”
“I realize that, after all these years, they are still in love. I wonder how this could be possible when they don’t have any children. Aren’t children what keep a husband and wife together?”
“A Muslim woman must not touch a man who is not her husband or a close relation.”
The plot could be interesting if it were less cliche and less superficial. The MCs lacked the depth and credibility. The writing is simple, but not in a good way. I see how hard the author tried to make it poetic, but I didn’t buy it.
All in all – I still can’t believe that this book won Lammy in 2015 in the category Gay Fiction.