Based on historical events, the lives of two women living centuries apart are bound together by an enigmatic painting in this mesmerizing debut.
Art historian Yasmine has been working on restoring an unsigned portrait of a strikingly beautiful girl from the Napoleonic Era, when she discovers that the artist has embedded a lock of hair into the painting, something highly unusual. The mysterious painting came into the museum’s possession without record, and Yasmine sets out to uncover the secret concealed within this captivating work.
Meanwhile, at the close of the French Campaign in Egypt, sixteen-year-old Zeinab, the daughter of a prominent sheikh, is drawn into French high society when Napoleon himself requests her presence. Enamored by the foreign customs of the Europeans, she finds herself on a dangerous path, one that may ostracize her from her family and culture.
Seamlessly merging fiction with history, art and politics, modern day Cairo with its opulent past, this compelling story of two women caught between worlds and entangled in matters of the heart launches an entrancing new literary voice.
The latest novel from renowned Palestinian writer Sahar Khalifeh, a deeply poetic account of love and resistance through a young girl’s eyes.
Nidal, after many decades of restless exile, returns to her family home in Nablus, where she had lived with her grandmother before the 1948 Nakba that scattered her family across the globe. She was a young girl when the popular resistance began and, through the bloodshed and bitter struggle, Nidal fell in love with freedom fighter Rabie. He was her first and only real love—him and all that he represented: Palestine in its youth and spring, the resistance fighters in the hills, the nation as embodied in her family home and in the land.
Many years later, Nidal and Rabie meet, and he encourages her to read her uncle Amin’s memoirs. She immerses herself in the details of her family and national past and discovers that her absent mother had been nurse and lover to Palestinian leader Abdel-Qader al-Husseini.
Set in the final days of the British Mandate, Sahar Khalifeh’s spins an epic tale filled with emotional urgency and political immediacy.
An American-born traveler to one of Istanbul’s oldest communities receives an unexpected welcome in this heart-warming and romantic debut. Fanis is at the center of a dwindling yet stubbornly proud community of Rum, Greek Orthodox Christians, who have lived in Istanbul for centuries. When Daphne, the American-born niece of an old friend, arrives in the city in search of her roots, she is met with a hearty welcome. Fanis is smitten by the beautiful and aloof outsider, who, despite the age difference, reminds him of the fiancée he lost in the 1955 pogrom. Kosmas, a master pastry chef on the lookout for a good Rum wife, also falls instantly for Daphne. She is intrigued by him, but can she love him in return? Or will a family secret, deeply rooted in the painful history of the city itself, threaten their chances?
This story of love, hopeful beginnings, and ancient traditions introduces a sparkling new literary voice sure to transport and entertain.
Honorable Mention in the ‘General Fiction’ category of the 2022 Eric Hoffer Award
After reading Kafka, K decides to write his own diary, but he is constantly frustrated by his lack of experiences: he is worn down by the drudgery of his corporate job for a faceless corporation and by his incessant family obligations.
When he receives the news that he has leukemia, he finds himself torn between a sense of devastation and a revelation that he has finally found a way out of his writing predicament. Through Mohammed’s measured but forceful writing, this compelling debut has a universality that reaches across time, place, and culture.
Shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction
Spanning twentieth-century Egyptian history and opening with the true story of a prominent Cairo businessman’s murder, this rags-to-riches story wondrously combines real-life events with fiction, told by a “magical storyteller”
It was in the spring of 1927 that Cairo’s attention was captured by the shocking murder of prominent businessman Solomon Cicurel in his Nile-side villa in the upscale Zamalek district. It was a burglary that went wrong, and four culprits were soon arrested. Their trial was concluded swiftly, their punishments were decisive, and society breathed a sigh of relief.
In Ashraf El-Ashmawi’s telling, there was a fifth accomplice, Abbas, who fled to his home in the countryside to lay low until the murder trial blew over. However, he did not escape empty-handed and kept stolen documents from Cicurel’s villa, ones that he imagined would lead him to a hidden safe. Abbas hatched a plan to return to the capital, find the safe, and make his fortune. The first step was to place his sister Zeinab with Cicurel’s widow, Paula.
Abbas’s rags-to-riches story unfolds as a tale of modern Egypt, taking in the Second World War, the 1952 revolution and rise of Nasser, the 1967 war, and the Sadat and Mubarak eras. Spanning the 1920s to the 1990s, El-Ashmawi deftly weaves together history with fiction in this intriguing English-language debut.
A story of betrayal, desire, and family drama, written by a giant of Egyptian popular fiction who shocked readers in the 1950s when this Lolita-esque novel first appeared and whose work has never before been available in English
Sixteen-year-old Nadia had been raised by her father, after her parents divorced when she was only a baby. Indulged and petulant, she remained the only female in her father’s life. But when she returns from boarding school to find that he has remarried without her knowledge, she conspires to restore her rightful place, creating misery, confusion, and a flood of unexpected consequences in her wake.
Written as a letter, a confession, by now twenty-one-year old Nadia, Ihsan Abdel Kouddous’s classic novel of revenge and betrayal challenges patriarchal norms with its strong female characters and brazen sexuality, and continues to speak to the complex human condition. It dives into middle-class life, and lays bare the repressed desires, seething jealousies, and complicated dramas of family.
This gritty tale of two men’s ill-conceived quest for a better life via the deserts of the Middle East and the cities of Europe is pure storytelling
Two Bedouin men from Egypt’s Western Desert seek to escape poverty through different routes. One—the intellectual, terminally self-doubting, and avowedly autobiographical Hamdi—gets no further than southern Libya’s fly-blown oasis of Sabha, while his cousin—the dashing, irrepressible Phantom Raider—makes it to the fleshpots of Milan.
The backdrop of this darkly comic and unsentimental story of illegal immigration is a brutal Europe and Muammar Gaddafi’s rickety, rhetoric-propped Great State of the Masses, where “the Leader” fantasizes of welding Libyan and Egyptian Bedouin into a new self-serving political force, the Saad-Shin.
Compelling and visceral, with a seductive, muscular irony, The Men Who Swallowed the Sun is an unforgettable novel of two men and their fellow migrants and the extreme marginalization that drives them.
International Booker Prize finalist and “one of the Arab world’s most innovative novelists” (Roger Allen) delivers a brilliant retelling of the Muslim wars of conquest in North Africa
The year is 693 and a tense exchange, mediated by an interpreter, takes place between Berber warrior queen al-Kahina and an emissary from the Umayyad General Hassan ibn Nu’man. Her predecessor had been captured and killed by the Umayyad forces some years earlier, but she will go on to defeat them.
The Night Will Have Its Say is a retelling of the Muslim wars of conquest in North Africa during the seventh century CE, narrated from the perspective of the conquered peoples. Written in Ibrahim al-Koni’s unique and enchanting voice, his lyrical and deeply poetic prose speaks to themes that are intensely timely. Through the wars and conflicts of this distant, turbulent era, he addresses the futility of war, the privilege of an elite few at the expense of the many, the destruction of natural habitats and indigenous cultures, and questions about literal and fundamentalist interpretations of religious texts.
Al-Koni’s masterly account of conquest and resistance is both timeless and timely, infused with a sense of disaster and exile—from language, the desert, and homeland.