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A group of friends and I discussed this book recently and our discussion was long and vigorous but, interestingly, revolved more about the issues raised by the book than the book itself. Hirsi Ali might well be pleased by that. By her own admission she is a passionate advocate of a single issue: the need to free women from the oppression of cultural customs that are violent, intimidating and destructive. That her autobiography could generate interest, passion and, most especially, debate, about the kinds of difficult issues many people and cultural groups find easier to ignore than address might well justify the dangerous over-exposure the book has brought her. She now lives hedged in by close police protection.
From a literary point of view, the book is well written. The narrative moves quickly; the author doesn’t allow extraneous political or religious detail to slow the pace of her story. There is nothing plodding about it; on the contrary, she manages to instil a degree of suspense and breathless uncertainty into a story where we already know the relatively happy ending. The language is simple without being unsophisticated. Her sentences are not cluttered with cumbersome language or convoluted constructions. One has the feeling that she writes more or less as she speaks—and all this from a non-native English speaker.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Islam