Tag Archives: superhero

Book Review: Shadow on the Wall

Shadow on the Wall by Pavarti K. Tyler (pub date 5/1/12)

“Actions could be decided, people could be corrupted, but faith is the only thing left that could remain pure no matter what trials it endured.”

Heroes can come from anywhere, and they are often born out of unusual and sometimes tragic circumstances.  Although in order to be a hero for others, they must first rise above their own fears and shortcomings.  In this novel by indie author Pavarti K. Tyler, a young Muslim man faces his own demons in order to fight corruption in his home city. 

Shadow on the Wall is the first installment in The SandStorm Chronicles, a new series about a Muslim superhero who battles the brutality of an organization called the RTK.  The RTK is a corrupt group who wish to impose Muslim fundamentalist law in Turkey.  Operating with the support of the mayor of the city of Elih, the RTK act as “morality police,” spreading terror and arresting people for any perceived infraction.  

In this book we are introduced to Recai Osman, the privileged son of deceased billionaire parents.  After being forced to witness an act of extreme cruelty committed by the RTK, Recai retreats from the world and goes on a journey of self-discovery.  Recai comes to terms with his own failure to act on that terrible day, and returns to Elih to assume control of his family’s corporation and fortune.  Then with the help of his friend Maryam and pseudo father figure Hasad, Recai becomes The SandStorm and vows to bring down the evil powers that be.

In short, Shadow on the Wall is a new spin on the Batman mythos, though it is not a graphic novel and is also not suitable for children.  But Tyler did more than just write a new Batman story.  She made it her own, and took a risk by writing about a controversial topic like Muslim fundamentalism.  This story could have been set anywhere in the world, but Tyler dared to set the story in Turkey and use Muslim characters, even though she is not Turkish or Muslim.

This is an ambitious and very unique story.  It tackles some very heavy themes, including faith, honor, and the treatment of women.  Tyler does not consider this to be a feminist novel, but there are prominent female characters in the story, each with her own opinion of Islam and of wearing the traditional headscarf and veil.  Maryam sees her coverings as a comfort and protection, while the power-hungry Darya sees them as tools of subjugation.  The issues regarding women in Islam were what I enjoyed most about this book.   

It’s a solid story with interesting characters, though it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.  But if you enjoy stories that challenge the way think and how you see other religions and cultures, then give Shadow on the Wall a try.  And don’t worry if you think you don’t know enough about Islam to understand it; there is a glossary in the back of the book that explains some of the more obscure words and phrases.

Shadow on the Wall was nominated for several awards, and won the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Award for general fiction.  It’s great that in an industry dominated by about only six publishing conglomerates, indie authors are still finding their voice and receiving recognition.  I’m psyched to find out what happens in Book Two of The SandStorm Chronicles!

Guest Post from Indie Author Pavarti K. Tyler

I’m so thrilled that I got to be a part of Book Expo America 2012!  Yesterday I spent the day in New York with a few of the lovely ladies from the Booksellers Without Borders NY blog and we all met some wonderful people and picked up some interesting books along the way.  I’ll be sure to post a full report soon.  Right now I want to let you all know about one author in particular that I met at BEA: Pavarti K. Tyler, author of Shadow on the Wall and winner of the 2012 Indie Book Award for general fiction.

Shadow on the Wall is about a Muslim superhero, and I’ve heard it described as a new spin on the “Batman” mythos, even though it is not a graphic novel.  If you’re thinking you might be put off by a book with a Muslim protagonist, don’t let first impressions fool you!  Take a look at this guest post by Pavarti, in which she describes how she got started on her book:

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How a Unitarian from Jersey writes about a Muslim Superhero

 

Have you ever gotten that feeling in the back of your head that there’s something not quite right about the way you think?  I’ve always daydreamed about things others have considered impossible or ridiculous.  I’m the loon who decided statistically charting various vampires’ awesomeness was a good idea.

So when the suggestion was made that someone needed to write about a Middle Eastern superhero my imagination went into overdrive.  Of course we need a Middle Eastern superhero!  Others have tackled this topic to great success, like Dr. Naif of the99.org, what’s different here is that I am not from the Middle East.

I sat down and started writing and a character named Recai Osman appeared on the pages before me.  With green eyes and red beard, Recai stood in the middle of a windblown desert, daring me to take the challenge.

And cue the theme to Beyond Thunderdome.

A problem soon presented itself.  It’s impossible to discuss the Middle East in any meaningful way without bringing religion into the conversation, and while I’ve studied Islam, I am not a Muslim.  I’m not Jewish either.  In fact, I’m about as far from the religious spectrum of the Middle East as you could get.  I’m a Unitarian Universalist.

UUism is based on the idea that we all have the right to our own path to Truth.  For some that Truth is God, for some it’s not.  What connects us within the UU church is the belief that the search is valuable and that there is benefit to having a supportive and respectful community with whom to share that search. (You can read more about our principles here: Our Unitarian Universalist Principles)

For me, the importance of an individual’s expression of faith within a community is huge.  I believe in God.  Because of this, I often find myself listening to the fundamentalist rhetoric of all religions with a frustrated sigh.  Why does someone have to be wrong in order for another to be right?

It was with this in mind that I thought about Recai.  What makes a good man?  What makes a good Muslim?  And in a society in which religion is such a prominent part of day-to-day life, what would be the shape of evil?

Recai is a faithful man; he’s erred and he’s sinned, but his belief in Allah and in humanity is solid.  Underneath his layers of confusion and self-doubt is a good man.  His day-to-day life has been isolated from the city he lives in: Elih, Turkey (Google it for a good giggle). What would happen if a flawed man was forced to confront real evil, real sin?  Could he rise to the occasion?

Islam and Judaism run throughout Shadow on the Wall. Some of the phrases and cultural idioms may be unfamiliar to Western readers, but I hope that you will see a little of yourself in the characters. The issues they face are written at high stakes, but the questions posed are ones we must all answer.  Who am I?  What do I stand for?  Although Shadow on the Wall has supernatural elements, I like to think heroes exist in life, and I like to think that religion can fuel the good in people.  Perhaps we’re all capable of great things.

***Want to know more about Pavarti Tyler?  Check out this bio and visit her fan pages.  And look for my review of Shadow on the Wall, coming soon!

 

 

Author Bio:

Pavarti K Tyler is an artist, wife, mother and number cruncher. She graduated Smith College in 1999 with a degree in Theatre. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director and Production Manager on productions both on and off Broadway.

 

Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry as a freelance accountant for several international law firms. She now operates her own accounting firm in the Washington DC area, where she lives with her husband, two daughters and two terrible dogs. When not preparing taxes, she is busy working at Novel Publicity and penning her next novel.

 

My blog is all ages: http://www.fightingmonkeypress.com

My tumblr is 18+ only: http://pavartidevi.tumblr.com/

My Fan Page needs your likes: https://www.facebook.com/#!/FMPress

My Twitter likes friends: http://twitter.com/#!/PavartiKTyler

My Google+ is random: https://plus.google.com/?gpinv=JFSVnKSj7Uk:FdjR-3NCJW8#me/posts