Twin sisters Randa and Lamis live in the besieged Gaza Strip. Inseparable to the point that even their mother cannot tell them apart, they grow up surrounded by the random carnage that characterizes life under occupation. Randa, who wants to be a journalist, writes to record the devastation around her, taking pictures of martyred children. Meanwhile, their beloved neighbor Amna quietly converses with all those she has lost, as she plans the wedding of Lamis and her son Saleh. With their menfolk almost entirely absent, it is the women who take center stage in this poignant novel of resilience, determination, and living against the odds.
Translated byNancy Roberts
12 October 2017
For sale worldwide
Ibrahim Nasrallah was born to Palestinian parents in Jordan in 1954, and grew up in a refugee camp there. After working as a teacher and a journalist, in 1996 he became vice-president of Darat al-Funun, Jordan’s most prominent art and cultural center. He has written fifteen collections of poetry and eleven novels as well as works of literary criticism. He is also a painter and photographer.
To read an article by Nasrallah entitled 'Writing Palestinian Historical Fiction' (December 22, 2012, Culture+Conflict), click here.
A Rare Blue Bird Flies with Me
Youssef Fadel Translated by Jonathan Smolin
A NovelYoussef Fadel
Translated byJonathan Smolin
Spring, 1990. After years of searching in vain, a stranger passes a scrap of paper to Zina. It’s from Aziz: the man who vanished the day after their wedding almost two decades ago. It propels Zina on a final quest for a secret desert jail in southern Morocco, where her husband crouches in despair, dreaming of his former life. Youssef Fadel pays powerful testament to a terrible period in Morocco’s history, known as ‘the Years of Cinders and Lead,’ and masterfully evokes the suffering inflicted on those who supported the failed coup against King Hassan II in 1972....read more
15 April 2016
Betool Khedairi Translated by Muhayman Jamil
Translated byMuhayman Jamil
Absent tells the story of Dalal, a young Iraqi woman living with the childless aunt and uncle who raised her. Dalal and her neighbors try to maintain normal lives, despite the crippling effect of bombings and international sanctions resulting from the first Gulf War. By turns affectionate, wry, and darkly comic, Absent paints a moving portrait of people struggling to get by in impossible circumstances. Upstairs, the fortune-teller Umm Mazin offers her customers cures for their physical and romantic ailments; below, Saad the hairdresser attends to a dwindling number of female customers; and on the second floor, the nurse Ilham dreams of her long-lost French mother to escape the grim realities she sees in the children’s ward at the hospital. With memories of happier times during the “Days of Plenty” of her childhood, Dalal falls in love for the first time against a background of surprise arrests, personal betrayals, and a crumbling social fabric that turns neighbors into informants. Tightly crafted and skillfully told, Absent is a haunting portrait of life under sanctions, the fragile emotional ties between individuals, and, ultimately, the resilience of the human spirit....read more
A Libyan Novel
Ibrahim al-Koni Translated by William M. Hutchins
A Libyan NovelIbrahim al-Koni
Translated byWilliam M. Hutchins
A Tuareg youth ventures into trackless desert on a life-threatening quest to find the father he remembers only as a shadow from his childhood, but the spirit world frustrates and tests his resolve. For a time, he is rewarded with the Eden of a lost oasis, but eventually, as new settlers crowd in, its destiny mimics the rise of human civilization. Over the sands and the years, the hero is pursued by a lover who matures into a sibyl-like priestess. The Libyan Tuareg author Ibrahim al-Koni, who has earned a reputation as a major figure in Arabic literature with his many novels and collections of short stories, has used Tuareg folklore about Anubis, the ancient Egyptian god of the underworld, to craft a novel that is both a lyrical evocation of the desert’s beauty and a chilling narrative in which thirst, incest, patricide, animal metamorphosis, and human sacrifice are more than plot devices. The novel concludes with Tuareg sayings collected by the author in his search for the historical Anubis from matriarchs and sages during trips to Tuareg encampments, and from inscriptions in the ancient Tifinagh script in caves and on tattered manuscripts. In this novel, fantastic mythology becomes universal, specific, and modern....read more
30 June 2014
Alaa Al Aswany Translated by Farouk Abdel Wahab
Translated byFarouk Abdel Wahab
Sex, money, and politics are the driving forces of society in this new novel from bestselling author Alaa Al Aswany. A medley of Egyptian and American lives collides on the campus of the University of Illinois Medical Center in a post-9/11 Chicago, and crises of identity abound. Among the players are an atheistic antiestablishment American professor of the sixties generation, whose relationship with a younger African-American woman becomes a moving target for intolerance; a veiled Ph.D. candidate whose conviction in the code of her traditional upbringing is shaken by her exposure to American society; an émigré who has fervently embraced his new American identity, but who cannot escape his Egyptian roots when faced with the issue of his daughter’s ‘honor’; an Egyptian State Security informant who spouts religious doctrines while hankering after money and power; and a dissident student poet who comes to America with the sole aim of financing his literary aspirations, but whose experience in Chicago turns out to be more than he bargained for. This tightly plotted page-turner is set far from the downtown Cairo of Al Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building, but is no less unflinching an examination of contemporary Egyptian lives....read more