Mara's Must Reads!

Submitted by Sophia Choto on

By: Marthadina Russell

Today’s Feature: DJINN by Tofik Dibi, translated by Nicolaas Barr

A page-turning memoir at the crossroads of sexual, cultural and religious identity 


I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t typically jump at opportunities to read non-fiction, let alone any sort of biographical writing. I’m the kind of girl who prefers to linger in the fantasy section of a given bookshop. Biographies, to me, have always felt like homework, filled with tedious details about some white guy’s self-important life. (I realize now this isn’t always true, my apologies to all the great biographies I’ve missed!)

But if you feel similarly, let me be the one to tell you: 

You have got to read this book. 

Never have I ever read through non-fiction so fast. This memoir, written by a Dutch political figure that I hadn’t the slightest awareness of until now, had me completely invested from start to finish. So, with that in mind, who is this guy, anyway?

Tofik Dibi is the son of two Moroccan immigrants, born and raised in the Netherlands. As Dibi spends his childhood in Amsterdam, he becomes acutely aware that the “world’s most liberal city” might not be as tolerant as people think. Early on, Dibi engages himself in political activism, and a few years later, he is elected to Dutch Parliament at the very young age of 26. Throughout his political career, Dibi passionately fights for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, all while facing public speculation about his own sexuality. On this particular personal subject, he is utterly silent. 

Until he writes this book. 

This memoir is not just a riveting tale of Dibi’s political ascent, but a touching and complex coming-out story. It is intimate, honest and vulnerable. And at times, heartbreakingly matter-of-fact. Dibi lays out his life experiences with a steady voice, as he attempts to detangle the combatting influences on his identity, and struggles to accept the “djinn” inside him.

Djinn was an immediate bestseller in the Netherlands, and thanks to CHID’s own Dr. Nicolaas Barr, this book is now translated to English! You can find it on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble.

Go forth and read!

News Topic