I read this book with interest as someone who remembered seeing the author on MTV when I was a teenager. The transformation from an MTV presenter to a practising Muslim woman sounds acute, but the book shows a natural progression over the years along a journey which has led to a series of interesting twists and turns through a host of well known people. But it is not the celebrity aspect which makes the book interesting, it is the spiritual journey which clearly continues to be taken by so many western educated, female professionals. The book sheds light on what draws women to a faith which continues to get consistently bad press. The book separates facts about Islam from fiction and it offers a profound insight into its spiritual attraction.
With the Berlin Wall reduced to installation art and the global triumph of liberal capitalism assured, a mesmerisingly beautiful European television presenter experiences a crisis of the soul. Through a chance encounter with an international sports star she is propelled into a domain which makes her question the most essential precepts of her existence; through losing the world, she ends up gaining the universe.
The above text reads like a précis for a contemporary work of magical realism, and notwithstanding the entirely factual nature of the first English-language edition of From MTV to Mecca (German and Dutch versions having preceded this volume), the narrative of former MTV and NBC Europe icon Kristiane Backer at times mirrors that of Pamuk and Calvino: there is a certain reflexivity and profundity that fans of The Black Book or If on a winter’s night a traveler will doubtless recognise and admire.
If anything, however, Backer’s work proffers an even scarcer modality: that searing luminosity concomitant with the sincerest quests of the soul. It is rare indeed for the limitations of even the most glamourous designer lifestyle to be perceived so acutely, and rarer still for an individual to surrender so honestly to a path whose call few heed. The transcendence required for both these actions entirely penetrates this book.
From MTV to Mecca represents nothing less than a journey of enchantment: it is no exaggeration to state that this is one of the most important works to be published in any genre since the year 2000. Anyone with the remotest interest in literature, spirituality, intercultural dialogue or pop culture will regard this book as a reference point; an inspiration; in short, a treasure!
This isn’t a gentile stroll through a life mapped out in the luxury of certainty, but of a courageous leap of conviction into a journey unknown. The highs and lows of a life during and post an MTV heyday are depicted in detail, living amongst a host of islamic scholars and close friends, but whilst also among the regulatory stellar stars of the music industry showbiz.
As a literary wordsmith the writer isn’t a novice (leaning on her journalistic experiences) and possesses sufficient tools in her locker to depict colourful recreations of meetings, people’s reactions, exotic locations, architectural and environmental observations in the East, Middle East, North Africa and Europe; all entertainingly contrasted, and well supplemented with authentic quotes from Quran, Hadith and poetry from mystics and philosophers. The conclusions to each decision are logically argued with clear thought processes.
Whether misunderstood, sometimes wronged or taken advantage of, her eyes and heart are never diverted from observing the higher acts of human kindness and reciprocation that she observed throughout the muslim world. For established muslims this is a refreshing path of discovery of a known world by new eyes and new muslims will find the unearthing of a great deal of relevant information helpful and a source of encouragement from a bright mind. In this time of mass misinformation on Islam the non-muslim reader will gain a much needed insight to this incredible faith’s practicalities and philosophies in the modern world; throughout this serious business, however, this book will also entertain with a cool sense of (rare Anglo-German) humour.
It’s such a well written book. Very matter of fact, honest and inspiring. You don’t have to be a Muslim to enjoy it.
This a delightfully written book describing Kristiane’s spiritual journey to redefining herself and being much happier and content with her life and choices. One is proud of the role model she has established and counters much of negative stereo type hype in the media about her chosen faith. She is a tremendously impressive ambassador of the faith of Islam and the book provides a great insight into what motivated her to embark on the spiritual journey and what she has achieved and shown a true reflection of the faith. Highly recommended book.