“The Book of Doubt,” by Tessa de Loo was not as enthralling to me as “The Twins,” or as entertaining as “In Byron’s Footsteps,” or as heart wrenching as “A Bed In Heaven,” yet it is work that by many other writers would be hailed as their masterpiece. Ms de Loo, in my humble opinion, is knocking at the door of those exulted writers like Toni Morrison, Capote, Joyce and Conrad and so I view her work in a totally different light.
“The Book of Doubt,” is at times as dry and burdensome as the desert landscape that takes up so much of the book, but when the book recedes from that landscape and focuses on the characters, especially the lovely, trailblazing Aziza and her brother Hassan, it rises to a whole new level. Saeed, the main character, goes on a trip across Moracco in search of his father who abandoned him and his mother before Saeed was born and is believed to be living in his home country. On this journey of discovery, he converts to Islam. Saeed is a twenty-one year old full with doubts, and Islam helps him remove the doubts by giving him a template to live his life by. In so doing, he loses his ability to think rationally and critically and takes the teachings of the Qur’an literally and this leads to a fascinating conclusion that left me thinking for quite a while afterwards.
Ms de Loo, is one of the few writers I have read, that writes comfortably and insightfully about different religions. In “The Twins,” she tackles head on Christianity and Judaism, in “A Heaven in Bed,” she tackles Judaism from many different aspects, and in “The Book Of Doubt,” she tackles Islam in its many different forms.
She is a major talent.