The Last Convert tells the story of Margaret Marcus, a young Jewish woman who renounces her faith, converts to Islam and travels to Pakistan under the guardianship of her adoptive father Mawlana Abul Ala Mawdudi, the intellectual leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, a political organization which laid the foundation for militant and political Islam. Marcus becomes Maryam Jameelah, who in her new country writes extensively and famously of the problematic nature of “The West.”
If you plan on participating in today’s BOOK CLUB, please consider subscribing to comments at the bottom of the page. I will be updating this post with new questions and ideas over the course of the day.
- What were your general impressions of the book?
- Is this a book you would have read had you not been reading it for a book club?
- The Convert deviates from the traditional structure of a biography, in what ways, if any, did this enhance your reading of the book and in what ways, if any, was this problematic. How does the way the book is arranged help or detract from the ideas it contains?
- What role did Margaret Marcus’ parents and guardian play in her life? Was anyone of them a more critical part in the life that she led and the choices she made?
- How did you experience this book as you read it? Were you pulled into the story, or did it take awhile for you to get into?
- The Last Convert is subtitled, A Tale of Exile and Extremism. Baker stresses that she chose to make the word tale a part of the title very purposefully. Did the subtitle shape your expectations or the way that you read the story?
- What surprised you most about reading The Convert? Is there a person in the book you would most like to meet? What would you want to discuss with them?
- Baker and the research she did on Margaret Marcus/Maryam Jameelah quickly became a part of this story. What did you learn about her as the story progressed? Did her story enhance your understanding of the subject matter?
- What kinds of questions did you have during your reading? Were they answered?
- What questions did you have for the group?
12 review copies of The Last Convert were provided by Graywolf Press in order to facilitate this discussion. Thank you so much!