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With the acclaim won by her first two novels, Hanan al-Shaykh established herself as the Arab world's foremost woman writer. Beirut Blues, published to similar acclaim, further confirms her place in Arabic literature, and brings her writing to a new, groundbreaking level. The daring fragmented structure of this epistolary novel mirrors the chaos surrounding the heroine, Asmahan, as she futilely writes letters to her loved ones, to her friends, to Beirut, and to the war itself--letters of lament that are never to be answered except with their own resounding echoes. InBeirut Blues, Hanan al-Shaykh evokes a Beirut that has been seen by few, and that will never be seen again.
Since the U.S. publication of Women of Sand and Myrrh--which has now sold more than 35,000 copies and was selected as one of the Fifty Best Books of 1992 by Publishers Weekly--Hanan al-Shaykh has attracted an ever larger following for her dazzling tales of contemporary Arab women. In these seventeen short stories--eleven of which are appearing in English for the first time--al-Shaykh expands her horizons beyond the boundaries of Lebanon, taking us throughout the Middle East, to Africa, and finally to London. Stylistically diverse, her stories are often about the shifting and ambiguous power relationships between different cultures--as well as between men and women. Often compared to both Margaret Atwood and Margaret Drabble, Hanan al-Shaykh is "a gifted and courageous writer" (Middle Eastern International).
New York, 2001 As Hanan al-Shaykh travels through the streets of Manhattan to her daughter's wedding her mind is elsewhere. Remembering own secret ceremony some thirty years ago, her thoughts turn to her mother, Kamila, who was sacrificed into marriage: her absent mother who, in recent, reconciled years, has pleaded with Hanan, her daughter the writer, to tell this story. Lebanon, 1934. Kamila is nine years old when she is taken from the poverty of her childhood village in southern Lebanon to Beirut. Though she has never learned to read or write, stories, poetry and films are her passion, and she longs to go to school. Instead, she is to lead a life of domestic servitude-and worse, she has been secretly betrothed to her brother-in-law, Abu-Hussein, a man eighteen years her senior. A welcome escape from the strict household, Kamila is apprenticed to Fatme the seamstress. One day Kamila catches sight of a beautiful young man, Muhammad, sitting by a fountain. At the age of thirteen, for what will be the first and only time in her life, Kamila falls deeply in love. The following year, to her fury and anguish, Kamila is married to Abu-Hussein. That night, he forces himself upon his child-bride and a daughter is conceived: four years later, Kamila's second daughter, Hanan, is born. In secret, but risking everything, Kamila continues to see Muhammad. But in choosing to follow her heart, she must also, agonisingly, leave behind her beloved daughters. . . ; Beautifully evoking the fabric of life in Lebanon, The Locust and the Bird is a remarkable and intensely moving memoir. Told in a voice that is entirely distinctive and authentic, this unique portrait of the life of one woman gives us an astonishing insight into the lives of many others in the Arab world.
Gathered and passed down over the centuries from India, Persia, and across the Arab world, the mesmerizing stories of One Thousand and One Nights tell of the real and the supernatural, love and marriage, power and punishment, wealth and poverty, and the endless trials and uncertainties of fate. They are related by the beautiful, wise, young Shahrazad, who gives herself up to murderous King Shahrayar. The king has vowed to deflower and then kill a virgin every night--but Shahrazad will not be defeated by the king's appetites. To save herself, she cunningly spins a web of tales, leaving the king in suspense each morning, and thus prolonging her life for another day. Acclaimed Lebanese writer Hanan al-Shaykh has selected nineteen of these stories, retold them in modern English, and knitted them together into an utterly intoxicating collection. In al-Shaykh's hands, Shahrazad's tales are lush and evocative, rich with humor, and utterly captivating. dition.
Four strangers meet on a turbulent flight from Dubai to London: Amira, a canny Moroccan prostitute; Lamis, a 30-year old Iraqi divorcee; Nicholas, an English expert on Islamic art; and Samir, a Lebanese man who is delivering a monkey on a mission he doesn't fully understand. Once safely on British soil, Lamis and Nicholas fall in love, Samir chases after blond British youths, and Amira reinvents herself as a princess, the better to lure clients at the best London hotels. Through the city and across cultural borders, Only in London wittily portrays the smells, sounds, and sights of London's lively Arab neighorhoods, as well as the freedoms the city both offers and withholds from its immigrants.From the Trade Paperback edition.
With more than 21,000 copies in print of Women Of Sand And Myrrh, and more than 15,000 copies of The Story Of Zahra, Hanan al-Shaykh is the best known and most admired woman writer of the Arab world. This publication of Zahra will bring this passionate and courageous novel to a much larger group of readers. Its haunting story of a young Lebanese woman who attempts to stem the violence in Beirut by initiating a sexual liaison with a sniper has "lifted the corner of a dark curtain" (Sunday Telegraph ) from a world that fascinates us all.
In an unnamed Middle Eastern city, four women from different social and cultural backgrounds tell their story. There is Suha, an educated Lebanese woman brought to the desert by her husband; Tamr, who must fight against male rule to educate herself; Suzanne, captivated by the men and the mystery of the Arabian desert; and Nur, in fierce pursuit of lovers (male and female) and foreign adventures - but her husband has her passport. All four women struggle in a society where women cannot drive a car, walk in the streets unveiled, or travel without male permission. It is a society where sex, due to its constraints, becomes an obsession. These women are treated to every luxury except that which they truly desire - freedom.