Nazik Saba Yared's novel, first published in Arabic, and translated by Nadine Sinno, should be added to any list of literature by Middle Eastern women.
The story is set in post-war Lebanon, formerly known as The Land of Hospitality. Shattered dreams and decimated structures are all that is left to many in this graceful and beautiful land. This modern tale of a family strained by divorce is complicated by social, economic and psychological tensions. As often happens in Muslim countries during a divorce, Huda lost custody of her child. She tries to rebuild her own life while sharing the few brief days she is allotted with her teenage daughter. She wants to show, with pictures when words fail, some of the history of the country to ensure its beauty and culture are not lost to future generations.
The struggle of a mother bonding with a teen daughter she barely knows is hard in any culture. Now toss in the surge and ebb of women's rights or lack thereof, religious strictures and the constant memory of and possible future threat of wars. The task becomes Herculean, but housewife-turned university professor Huda is up for the task. At times heart wrenching, but also heart warming, this well scripted book is an enjoyable blend of history, family struggles and the difficult choices a woman must make.
Nazik Saba Yared is an acclaimed Lebanese author of numerous books about the problems of Arab society. She obtained her PhD in Arabic literature from the American University at Beirut, Lebanon. She has been decorated by the French government and received awards for three of her novels as well as the prestigious Prince Claus Award from the Netherlands. Nadine Sinno is currently completing her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at the University of Arkansas, where she also teaches world literature and composition.
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