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Biography & Autobiography Arab & Middle Eastern

Ballet Is Not For Muslim Girls

by (author) Mariam Pal

Renaissance Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2022
Arab & Middle Eastern, Women, Personal Memoirs
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2022
    List Price

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From biryani to borscht, the food was always fabulous in Canada's only Polish-Pakistani family. Mariam S. Pal's memoir, Ballet is not for Muslim Girls, is set in this remarkable Victoria B.C. household in the 60s and 70s. Growing up, Mariam struggled to navigate three cultures: her Pakistani father's, her Polish-Canadian mother's and Canada's, where Mariam was born and raised.

Mariam wanted to be a Canadian girl.

A "normal" first name would have been a good start. At school they called her Marilyn, Marian - anything but Mariam. Hers was the only house for miles that didn't hand out Halloween candy or put up Christmas lights. When Mariam came home from Grade 1 bawling because she was the only kid who didn't have a turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving, her parents started a roasting a bird each year.

Mariam was determined to be Canadian, fighting hard to attend high school dances or act in a drama class play. Ballet, Brownies forget it. Sleepovers were not allowed. Her martini-loving Muslim father fretted that a bacon and eggs breakfast might be on the menu the morning after.

Ballet Is Not For Muslim Girls is an engaging, fascinating account of Mariam's search for identity and belonging. Though her journey is sometimes painful, it is always thought provoking. Each chapter begins with an evocative and often hilarious photograph from Mariam's family album.

Ballet is not for Muslim Girls raises, with humour and affection, the fundamental issues of integration and cultural adaptation that all immigrants, from Adelaide to Quebec to Yonkers, grapple with. Ballet is not for Muslim Girls' poignant yet uplifting story will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers, regardless of their origin.

About the author

Born in Montréal, Mariam Pal spent her childhood in Victoria, B.C. where Ballet Is Not For Muslim Girls is set. Mariam returned to Montréal four decades ago to study economics and law at McGill. A former resident of Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire and Manila, Philippines, Mariam has traveled extensively in Europe, Asia and Africa. She is retired from careers in economic development and immigration law and lives in Montreal with her musician husband, Eli. In retirement she grows garlic, bakes a mean focaccia bread and is working on her second book, Eating Pineapple Upside Down Cake in Monrovia.

Mariam Pal's profile page