The Square Moon: Supernatural Tales

by Ghada Samman

Marking collisions and mutations of culture and character, these ten short stories arise at the frontiers where Arabic tradition melds with both the modern European world and a Gothic strata of the supernatural. The resultant mix sparks tensions between the sexes, between identities, and between experimental forms of storytelling and strict narrative.

In Samman’s fiction, matchmakers still come to call, but lovers go bungee jumping. A schizophrenic has a discussion with one of his personalities about murder and relationships with women. Avoiding ghosts both real and imagined, a war-exile confronts class structure; the art of Paris; and the trials of being a woman, an Arab, and a writer in a country and culture not her own. The spirit of a strangled lover tells the story of his murder and of the web of love, beauty, lust, and loathing that brought about his demise.

First published in Beirut in 1994 and now ably rendered into English, Samman’s The Square Moon mixes the ghoulish with the everyday, the playful and witty with the terrifying, and never shirks from surprise endings, uncommon turns of plot, and the strange but realistic details of the characters’ lives.