‘The memoir reaches the core of how fanatics – sects of any kind – draw in conceited youngsters by essentially appealing to a naïve hunger for self-sacrifice.’
‘This is the autobiographical account of the author’s journey into extremism… [it] opens a window onto the mind of an extremist who turns out to be disarmingly like many other clever adolescents bears witness to a history with whose reverberations we continue to live. It serves as a guide for the reader to the movement’s debates and preoccupations, motives and intention.’
The Middle East
‘The book attempts to answer the big question: are Islamists true representatives of Islamic culture? In the author’s view they are not.’
Good Book Guide
In 1986 Khaled al-Berry was a fourteen-year-old boy living in Asyut in Upper Egypt. Attracted at first by the ‘strong Muslim’ image of a radical Islamist group, his involvement develops until her finds himself increasingly committed to its beliefs and implicated in its activities. One day, leaving the university after a demonstration, he is arrested and is soon jailed for his involvement.
On his release al-Berry enrolled at Cairo University and became alienated from radical Islam. In Life is More Beautiful than Paradise he opens a window into the mind of an extremist who turns out to be disarmingly like many other clever adolescents, but one who bears witness to a history with whose reverberations we continue to live.
Life is More Beautiful than Paradise is an intelligent and critical guide to radical Islam’s unfamiliar debates, preoccupations, motives and intentions. Fluently written, intellectually gripping, exciting and often funny, this book provides vital key to the understanding of a world that is both a source of fear as well as curiosity for the West.
KHALED AL-BERRY was born in Sohag in Egypt in 1972. He has a degree in medicine from Cairo University and currently works as a journalist and writer in London, where he has lived since 1999.
HUMPHREY DAVIES is one of the world’s leading translators from Arabic. His translations include Alaa Al Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building and Gate of the Sun, for which he won the Banipal Prize for Translation.