cover image American Qur'an

American Qur'an

Sandow Birk. Liveright, $100 (464p) ISBN 978-1-63149-018-7

Birk, an American illustrator and graphic artist, dedicated nine years to studying traditional Qur'anic manuscripts and working on this modern homage. He sets the text in a graffiti-inspired handwritten font against scenes of contemporary American life drawn in sharp and loving detail. From the opening page, Birk's art stuns as it depicts a diverse American story with a Midwestern farm, a strip mall, and iconic monuments, each rendered in a distinctive and visually impressive style that begs for close attention. Meanwhile, the juxtaposition of words and images prompts the reader to engage deeply with the text, discovering resonances such as a chapter on charity illustrated with an urban scene where passersby ignore a panhandling homeless veteran. This masterpiece is important as an accessible and enjoyable introduction to the Qur'an for non-Muslim Americans, but even for Muslims and others familiar with the Qur'an, it bears weighty messages, inviting a reconsideration of sacred texts in the context of ordinary American lives. (Nov.)