Book Review: The Seven Perfumes of Sacrifice

 Author Amy Logan’s tragic yet inspiring novel begins with an explosion on a bus in Tel Aviv, Israel. The central character, referred to as Fareby, is an American journalist from Riverside, California who travels to Tel Aviv to cover a story. She meets a young Druze woman, named Leila Azzam, in which a kind of friendship develops. Leila is not Muslim, Christian or Jewish but belongs to an Arabic-speaking minority that is isolated and extremely religious. Like many Middle Eastern customs, the Druze beliefs place severe limits on how women can behave. In this community if a woman is accused of bringing shame upon the family name she can be killed; sometimes by her own family. The practice is known as an honor killing.

In her book, Logan illustrates that this tradition has existed for thousands of years and can occur with little or no warning to its victims. A woman can be executed for being raped, losing her virginity prior to marriage or by refusing to accept an arranged marriage; generally, any kind of behavior which the family or community deems inappropriate. However, Leila is not the typical Druze woman. She refuses to abide by the restrictions placed upon her life. She is incredibly intelligent and resourceful. So much so, that her parents allow her to attend The University of Haifa on a full scholarship. In addition to this, Leila has an American boyfriend. She is a painter and sells her paintings in a gallery. She also owns a cell phone. All of the above behaviors are considered to be immoral according to Druze custom and serve as grounds for her execution. Ultimately, Leila’s attempts to keep her life away from home a secret; are in vain. She is later murdered. Utterly devastated, Fareby begins the arduous journey to find Leila’s killer. In doing so she is forced to deal with her own demons, her relationship to her work and to the country itself.

The Seven Perfumes of Sacrifice is a thorough, contemplative book that forces it’s readers to look at the Middle East with a broader lens. The quarrelsome, habitually violent relationship between Palestinians and Jews has long been slathered across American media, but Logan’s writing not only raises awareness about an issue that is seldom discussed. She humanizes it in a way that encourages us to use more than intellect or politics when considering the plight of women in other cultures. She urges us to remember our hearts.

By Rebecca Nichloson

Author: Rebecca Nichloson

Rebecca Nicholson is a creative writer/editor, screenwriter/playwright, actress, singer-songwriter, and communications professional. She has written numerous articles about literature and the humanities, has completed two television pilots, Human Behavior and Atmore Girl, and she is the author of over a dozen full act, one act, and ten minute dramatic works, such as Hello I’m Eve (winner of the 2013 Jane Chambers Student Playwriting Award), Remnants, Cooking with Keisha, Rose Out the Pavement, Collision with Cake, The Applicant, Big Black Pot, Chocolate Barbie, The Dramatist, Big Man/Little Man, Jemima, Charlie Horse, and Bird Man. Her works have been developed and work shopped at the following venues: The Playwright’s Center of Minneapolis (where she was a Many Voices Fellow for two residences), Harlem Classical Theatre (playwrights playground), The Fire This Time Festival, Signature Theatre Company (as part of Columbia University “New Plays Now”), Shakespeare’s Sister Theatre Company, Penumbra Theatre Company (Gym Workshop), Pillsbury House Theatre, Bedlam Theatre and Gremlin Theatre. Rebecca holds a M.F.A. in Playwriting from Columbia University School of the Arts and a M.A. in English Literature from Mercy College School of Liberal Arts. She is also the recipient of the Liberace Award, the Howard Stein Fellowship, The Matthew’s Fellowship, and an America-in-Play Fellowship. To learn more visit www.rebeccanichloson.com