In the first quarter of this novel, the main protagonist, Malala, gives an introduction about her background in her Swat community, and how the women in the community are oppressed. The author does an excellent job in connecting to the diverse audience so that the reader can perceive this novel beyond the barrier of differences in culture and society that separates regions of the world. But all the time and detail spent explaining these cultural differences come at a cost: boredom.
The beginning seems excessively slow, and there is not much analytical depth that could have been explained at possible moments, such as, “Children in the refugee camps were even given school textbooks produced by an American university which taught basic arithmetic through fighting. They have examples like ‘If out of 10 Russian infidels, 5 are killed by one Muslim, 5 would be left'” (Yousafzai 33). In this section of the novel, the author misses an opportunity to rant about influences and biased education to further explain the hostility between certain countries. Maybe it is the author’s choice for the reader to interpret that meaning upon reading that quote, but that is what makes this book less powerful than acclaimed titles such as “Crime and Punishment”. By adding in deeper analytical content, the reader is able to understand more clearly what the author is trying to inform him, and commentary is exactly what makes novels so influential. “I am Malala” seems to me just an assortment of facts and details compiled together to convey a meaning of how “minorities have it rough” that can be interpreted differently, but that does not seem right for this novel’s potential.
To demonstrate my point on the importance of commentary, I’ll use religion as an example:
In Churches, there is a Pastor that teaches other Christians on what is deemed the morally correct lifestyle. The Pastor uses the Bible as a source of credibility to appear legitimate in his teachings. Everyone perceives a concrete detail in a variety of ways, and what that Pastor does is teach the Christians not what the Bible is about, but his interpretation on what the Bible is about. The Christians therefore learn the PASTOR’s way of life, not the Bible.
Maybe Yousafzai is to set up her novel as an assortment of concrete details to be interpreted by people however they want, and to be used as a credible source. Maybe Yousafzai is going to include a whole barrage of commentary nearing the end, although inconveniencing the reader for having to turn back some pages and make sense of the concrete detail. Maybe I should start on my Artistic Interpretation project.
With love, care, and $wag,