Rated PG: A miracle a day keeps the physicker away…
Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela
by Saladin Ahmed
I should not be so hard on Beit Zujaaj and its bumpkins. But when I look at the gray rock-heap houses, the withered gray vegetable-yards, and the stuporous gray lives that fill this village, I want to weep for the lost color of Baghdad.
Instead I sit and listen to the Shaykh.
“Abdel Jameela is not of Assad blood, O learned Professor. My grandfather took mercy, as God tells us we must, on the old man’s mother. Seventy-and-some years ago she showed up in Beit Zujaaj, half-dead from traveling and big with child, telling tales – God alone knows if they were true – of her Assad-clan husband, supposedly slain by highwaymen. Abdel Jameela was birthed and raised here, but he has never been of this village.” Shaykh Hajjar scowls. “For decades now – since I was a boy – he has lived up on the hilltop rather than among us. More of a hermit than a villager. And not of Assad blood,” he says again.
I stand up. I can take no more of the man’s unctuous voice and, praise God, I don’t have to.
“Of course, O Shaykh, of course. I understand. Now, if you will excuse me?”
Shaykh Hajjar blinks. He wishes to say more but doesn’t dare. For I have come from the Caliph’s court.
About the Author
Saladin Ahmed was born in Detroit. His debut novel Throne of the Crescent Moon, praised by George RR Martin as “a rollicking swashbuckler,” received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and Library Journal, and was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and the Nebula Award for Best Novel. Throne of the Crescent Moon won the Locus Award for Best First Novel, and has been translated into a half-dozen foreign languages.
Saladin’s poems and short stories, nominated for numerous awards, have appeared in publications ranging from Slate to Callaloo to BuzzFeed, and have been widely anthologized and translated. His essays on politics, geek culture, and Muslim American issues have appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Salon. He lives near Detroit, and is currently writing Black Bolt for Marvel Comics.
About the Narrator
Rajan Khanna is a fiction writer, blogger, reviewer and narrator. His first novel, Falling Sky, a post-apocalyptic adventure with airships, was released in 2014 from Pyr. Sequels Rising Tide and Raining Fire came out in 2015 and 2017. His short fiction has appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, and several anthologies. His articles and reviews have appeared at Tor.com and LitReactor.com and his podcast narrations can be heard at Podcastle, Escape Pod, PseudoPod, Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Lightspeed Magazine. Rajan lives in Brooklyn, NY where he’s a member of the Altered Fluid writing group. He is represented by Barry Goldblatt of the Barry Goldblatt Literary Agency.