Read our short interview with Jamal Orme about his upcoming book and the influences behind his writing
Today is World Book Day and to celebrate we caught up with Kube author Jamal Orme to talk about his upcoming book The Victory Boys: Team Spirit, a further tale about faith and football and their role in adolescent Muslim experience.
Team Spirit continues the story from Jamal’s writing debut, and will speak to all young Muslims about faith, community and identity.
As Shabab Al-Nasr prepare to defend their trophy, in walks Amir, a player good enough to win it on his own! But for all his stunning skills, is he ready to become one of the team? And with Ibrahim battling jealousy and low self-confidence, can the Victory Boys find that winning team spirit once more?
Recommended for ages 9+
Kube: The Victory Boys is an enjoyable and accessible tale for young Muslims who might associate themselves with Junayd’s story. What inspired you to write this book in the first place?
Jamal Orme: A few things, really. The main one was the notion that it’s easier to be yourself if you don’t have separate identities in your life. In the story, the imam of the mosque suddenly gets the idea to connect the boys’ two worlds: their football obsession, and their identity as young Muslims, something they are struggling to generate the same enthusiasm for. It seemed to me that often the reaction when children are caught between those two worlds is to almost become two separate people, and not to feel comfortable about themselves, or even to really know themselves. The imam, whose well-intended approach to training children has always been very rigid, surprises himself, and I think it’s clear that the boys benefit from him more as a result.
I should add that I was also running a football club, which began as a club for Muslim boys but extended beyond that, so that undoubtedly helped to plant the seed of a plot in my head as well!
K: On World Book, UNESCO is seeking to promote reading among young people. How has your experience in education helped you to engage with a younger Muslim audience?
JO: I was a primary school teacher and a peripatetic teacher in primary schools for quite a few years, working in a multicultural London school, two schools for Muslim children, and a number of schools in Sussex. There’s a fairly well-established stereotype that boys don’t particularly like to read, and while that’s a pretty sweeping generalization, I could see that boys need to have something they’re interested in for them to want to pick up a book. I could be wrong, but my perception is that the amount of literature targeted at boys (or, at least, primarily at boys) has increased over the last decade or so. However, while these books are usually very well written and, on the whole, moral and positive, there are elements to them that aren’t perhaps 100% suited to the sort of ideas that some Muslim parents and teachers have about what is best for their children. I have tried to combine elements that I know these boys are interested in with messages about familiar and interesting
problems,without compromising those moral ideas.
K: What can we look forward to from the sequel The Victory Boys: Team Spirit?
JO: Team Spirit focuses on what happens to the team’s dynamic, and the personal self-esteem of its individuals, when both are threatened. We meet an important new character, Amir Zidane, whose stunning skills are a source of great concern for the existing team members. We see how they react, and find out whether the issue is enough to wreck their chances of retaining the trophy they won in the first book!
The Victory Boys: Team Spirit is a forthcoming release from Kube expected May 2015
Jamal’s first book, The Victory Boys, is available here (also available as an eBook)
For more content about Jamal and his fiction visit The Victory Boys website: http://thevictoryboys.com
World Book and Copyright Day (UNESCO)
“Through its Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions […] UNESCO is seeking to promote reading among young people and marginalised groups”.