In this finely observed novel, five young Lebanese women navigate their professional and social lives in a city interrupted by random explosions. It is not a war zone, but there is no peace either; Beirut stands at the edge of both. These women, much like their country, have been shaped by the events of a long civil war, their childhood spent in shelters, their adolescence in an unrecognizable city under rapid reconstruction. And here they are now, negotiating the details of their adult lives, fighting to protect their identities, voices, and relationships in a society constantly under questioning.
Talk of politics and gossip by the young and old animate the coffee shops. Heated debates and power dynamics unfold in bars and on the streets. Mandour’s funny and defiant style invites an intimacy, giving readers a glimpse into the absurdities and injustices of everyday life in Lebanon. With empathy and a deep honesty, Mandour narrates the lives of these women who struggle to create their own destiny while at the same time coming to terms with the identity of their Mediterranean city.
The Bride of Amman, a huge and controversial bestseller when first published in Arabic, takes a sharp-eyed look at the intersecting lives of four women and one gay man in Jordan’s historic capital, Amman-a city deeply imbued with its nation’s traditions and taboos. When Rana finds herself not only falling for a man of the wrong faith, but also getting into trouble with him, where can they go to escape? Can Hayat’s secret liaisons really suppress the memories of her abusive father? When Ali is pressured by society’s homophobia into a fake heterosexual marriage, how long can he maintain the illusion? And when spinsterhood and divorce spell social catastrophe, is living a lie truly the best option for Leila? What must she do to avoid reaching her ‘expiry date’ at the age thirty like her sister Salma, Jordan’s secret blogger and a self-confessed spinster with a plot up her sleeve to defy her city’s prejudices? These five young lives come together and come apart in ways that are distinctly modern yet as unique and timeless as Amman itself.
In this harrowing novel, a young Moroccan bookseller is falsely accused of being involved in jihadist activities. Drugged and carried off the street, Hamuda is “extraordinarily rendered” to a prison camp in an unknown location where he is interrogated and subjected to various methods of torture.
Narrated through the voice of the young prisoner, the novel unfolds in Hamuda’s attempt to record his experience once he is finally released after six years in captivity. He paints an unforgettable portrait of his captors’ brutality and the terrifying methods of his primary interrogator, a French woman known as Mama Ghula. With a lucid style, Himmich delivers a visceral tale that explores the moral depths to which humanity is capable of descending and the limits of what the soul can endure.
During the violence and chaos of the Lebanese Civil War, a car pulls up to a roadblock on a narrow side street in Beirut. After a brief and confused exchange, several rounds of bullets are fired into the car, killing everyone in the car except for a small boy of four or five. The boy is taken to the hospital, adopted by one of the assassins, and raised in a new family.
“My father used to kidnap and kill people…” begins this haunting tale of a child who was raised by the murderer of his real family. The narrator of Confessions doesn’t shy away from the horrible truth of his murderous father—instead he confronts his troubled upbringing and seeks to understand the distortions and complexities of his memories, his war-torn country, and the quiet war that rages inside of him.
Meet Egypt’s top TV preacher Hatem el-Shenawi: a national celebrity revered by housewives and politicians alike for delivering Islam to the masses. Charismatic and quick-witted, he has friends in high places. But when he is entrusted with a secret that threatens to wreak havoc across the country, he is drawn into a web of political intrigue at the very heart of government.
Can Hatem’s fame and fortune save him from this unspeakable scandal?
When a fourth corpse in three days washes up in Tangier with a bullet in the chest, Detective Laafrit knows this isn’t just another illegal immigrant who didn’t make it to the Spanish coast. The traffickers. The drug dealers. The smugglers. They know what it takes to get a gun into Morocco, and so does Laafrit. As his team hunts for the gun, Laafrit follows a hunch and reveals an international conspiracy to unlock the case.
A fast-paced crime thriller from the Arab west.
The Scarecrow is the final volume of Ibrahim al-Koni’s Oasis trilogy, which chronicles the founding, flourishing, and decline of a Saharan oasis. Fittingly, this continuation of a tale of greed and corruption opens with a meeting of the conspirators who assassinated the community’s leader at the end of the previous novel, The Puppet. They punished him for opposing the use of gold in business transactions—a symptom of a critical break with their nomadic past—and now they must search for a leader who shares their fetishistic love of gold. A desert retreat inspires the group to select a leader at random, but their “choice,” it appears, is not entirely human. This interloper from the spirit world proves a self-righteous despot, whose intolerance of humanity presages disaster for an oasis besieged by an international alliance. Though al-Koni has repeatedly stressed that he is not a political author, readers may see parallels not only to a former Libyan ruler but to other tyrants—past and present—who appear as hollow as a scarecrow.
Cairo at the very end of Ottoman rule. Behind the doors of the Automobile Club of Egypt, Egyptian staff attend to the every need of Cairo’s European elite – the way they always have done, it seems.
But soon the social upheaval out on the street will break its way through the club’s gilded doors, and its inhabitants above and below stairs must all confront their choices: to live safely without dignity, or to fight for their rights and risk everything.
In a crumbling colonial mansion besieged by slums in the old quarter of Algiers, Lamia lives a life of self-imposed isolation, communing only with her ghosts by day, working as a paediatrician by day. Her family are dead, but for her beloved brother Sofiane, who has become a harraga – one of those who risk their lives attempting to flee the country for a better life in Europe/elsewhere.
Lamia’s tranquil, ordered existence is turned upside-down when a sixteen-year-old stranger knocks on her door in the middle of the night. Only because she has been sent by Sofiane, Lamia takes the girl in. Pregnant, unmarried and dressed in garish finery like an X-Factor contestant, Chérifa is talkative, curiously innocent, and utterly unafraid. She enters the house like a whirlwind, and leaves a trail of destruction in her wake. Lamia must try to teach her, to protect her against a world where a woman who is not meek, subservient, married is an affront, where a girl who is pregnant can be killed to spare her family’s honour.
By turns funny and lyrical, luminous and sardonic, Harraga, by the controversial author of An Unfinished Business, is the engaging and ultimately tragic story of two very different women who become friends and allies in a patriarchal world.
Where Pigeons Don’t Fly follows Fahd, a boy growing up in Riyadh, from early childhood to the point where he flees Saudi Arabia to Britain in search of greater personal freedom. Fahd’s childhood is traumatised by his father’s involvement in the armed attack on the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979 and his subsequent premature death. As Fahd grows up, he becomes an artist and art reviewer for a cultural website, which leads him to amorous adventures with several women. But his love life and artistic aspirations constantly slam up against the repressive cultural and religious atmosphere of Saudi Arabia. When Fahd and his girlfriend are detained one day by the so-called Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, he feels he has little choice but to leave.