One of our journalism assignments this semester was to read Nahlah Ayed’s autobiographical book “A Thousand Farewells”, a gritty account of Ayed’s life and career. We see her experiences of going from a childhood in a quaint house in Winnipeg to growing up in a refugee camp in the middle east. We see some racism when the family returns to Winnipeg, and the dangers she faces as a journalist later in the violent terrain of the middle east.
The book is a well-written and genuine account of war in the middle east by a dedicated journalist, though I found the book to be a hard and slow read because of all the difficult names of people and places, though there’s not really a way around this. It’s just not my thing. I found myself reading sections and realizing a lot of it left my head as I read it. I still barely understand what exactly is going on in the middle east. Some easy to digest facts, a timeline, and/or a map could do wonders to clarify this for people who are getting into this topic with very little knowledge of the issues. Otherwise, I think this book’s target audience is quite small.
Admittedly, I do not read much non-fiction, so I can’t compare this work to other non-fiction. I think the closest I’ve gotten to reading non-fiction is the collection of books I have about Disney Imagineering and the extraordinary showmanship that goes into everything Disney touches. These books work for me because they’re really about business and theatre, whereas a few years on Winnipeg Transit have kind of turned me off to caring about the individual stories and peculiarities of real people. That’s not to say that I don’t empathize for people, I just can’t communicate their stories as well as a dedicated journalist could.
Overall, I think this book will probably be greatly appreciated by people who are interested in world issues and journalism, and I think it would’ve done better as a required read for journalism majors. If there’s anything I got out of “A Thousand Farewells”, it was to choose the more technical Media Production major over Journalism.