As a woman traveling alone in the early 1990s, Kathleen Jamie had exceptional access to the people inhabiting the remote Northern Areas of Pakistan: She befriended not only the men, but the purdah-observing Shia Muslim women who rarely appear in public. In the isolated mountain villages, she met locals balancing their traditions with the inevitable encroachment of tourism. When Jamie returned to the area after September 11, 2001, she was the only foreigner in the area. In an extensive epilogue, she observes how her friends and the area have changed as a result of war, tourism, and the passage of time. This intimate narrative reveals how Western women?s freedoms are perceived. One explains: “Your lifestyle is very strange and very difficult to us.” Meanwhile, Jamie is surprised to discover that they have never been to the public bazaar that she wanders through so casually. As Jamie discusses arranged marriage, divorce, children, education, travel, and attitudes toward freedom and risk with them, she draws a compelling and lively portrait of their lives and offers important insights for Americans seeking to better understand this remote part of the world. Among Muslims has been shortlisted for the Thomas Cook Award.
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