Godsend by John Wray review – the girl who joins the Taliban

In this bold novel of enormous emotional intelligence, an American convert reinvents herself as a boy in her quest to become a holy warriorAden Grace Sawyer is 18 years old, “a serious girl, an asker of questions”. Alienated from her comfortable suburb…

In this bold novel of enormous emotional intelligence, an American convert reinvents herself as a boy in her quest to become a holy warrior

Aden Grace Sawyer is 18 years old, “a serious girl, an asker of questions”. Alienated from her comfortable suburban California surroundings by family breakdown – her father has left home following an affair, and her mother has slipped into alcoholism – she turns to Islam for consolation. Her choice appears to be guided in equal measure by a genuinely spiritual urge for submission to the transcendent, and a more prosaic youthful defiance. Still in the Bay Area, she dons Afghan-style shalwar kameez, and crops her hair rather than wear a hijab. Next she plans to migrate to a godly country. Because Decker, her blustering boyfriend and travelling companion, has Afghan roots and cousins in Karachi, they head for Pakistan.

Aden’s father is a professor of Islamic studies at Berkeley, and has warned her of the limited “possibilities for a woman in that part of the world”. Aden has too much attitude to accept any sort of limitation and so reinvents herself, improbably but credibly, as a boy. With bandaged breasts, and “hidden by her clear and perfect strangeness”, she becomes Suleyman, Qur’anic student and potential holy warrior. Soon she’s attending a madrasa in the tribal areas of the Pakistani-Afghan borderlands. “So far away,” she whispers triumphantly. Too far for unlucky Decker, who only planned an adventure holiday. To sustain her role, Aden now refuses to sleep with him.

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North Korean envoy may meet Trump to discuss second summit

Kim Yong-chol visit could clear way for further denuclearisation talksNorth Korea’s lead negotiator in nuclear diplomacy with the US is expected to hold talks with the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and could also meet President Donald Trump on Frida…

Kim Yong-chol visit could clear way for further denuclearisation talks

North Korea’s lead negotiator in nuclear diplomacy with the US is expected to hold talks with the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and could also meet President Donald Trump on Friday during a visit aimed at clearing the way for a second US-North Korea summit.

Kim Yong-chol arrived in Washington on Thursday evening. It is his first visit since last June when he arrived before a landmark meeting between Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, in Singapore. Efforts made since then to get Pyongyang to denuclearise appear to have stalled.

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Ryanair issues profit warning as winter fares fall

Lower-fare environment will shake out more loss-making rivals, says Michael O’LearyRyanair has issued its second profit warning in four months, blaming intense competition over the winter that prompted the Irish budget airline to cut fares.Profits for …

Lower-fare environment will shake out more loss-making rivals, says Michael O’Leary

Ryanair has issued its second profit warning in four months, blaming intense competition over the winter that prompted the Irish budget airline to cut fares.

Profits for the year ending 31 March will be €100m (£88m) lower than previous expectations, at between €1bn to €1.1bn, the company said in a statement to the stock market. That was down from the €1.1bn to €1.2bn range previously expected.

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Zambian villagers await outcome of UK mining firm’s pollution case appeal

Vedanta Resources in fresh appeal to have water contamination claim brought by 1,800 people heard in ZambiaA British mining company has appealed to the supreme court to prevent 1,800 Zambian villagers bringing a pollution case involving its subsidiary …

Vedanta Resources in fresh appeal to have water contamination claim brought by 1,800 people heard in Zambia

A British mining company has appealed to the supreme court to prevent 1,800 Zambian villagers bringing a pollution case involving its subsidiary from being tried in the UK.

Lawyers for Vedanta Resources told Britain’s highest court that the case – brought by villagers who allege that their land and livelihoods were destroyed by water contamination from Vedanta-owned Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) – should be heard in Zambia instead.

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Academic who defined news principles says journalists are too negative

Exclusive: preoccupation with conflict fosters insecurity, populism and trust deficit, says Johan GaltungThe academic who first defined the essence of news journalism has said the media have misconstrued his work and become far too negative, sensationa…

Exclusive: preoccupation with conflict fosters insecurity, populism and trust deficit, says Johan Galtung

The academic who first defined the essence of news journalism has said the media have misconstrued his work and become far too negative, sensational and adversarial.

Johan Galtung, a Norwegian professor who wrote a key scientific paper more than 50 years ago that listed a series of factors including conflict and immediacy as the hallmarks of news reporting, said his work was intended as a warning, not a guide.

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India’s Kumbh Mela festival – in pictures

Thought to be the world’s largest human gathering, more than 20 million Hindu pilgrims ritually bathed on the opening day of the festival Continue reading…

Thought to be the world’s largest human gathering, more than 20 million Hindu pilgrims ritually bathed on the opening day of the festival

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