Ibrahim, a freelance journalist from Arabia, has always been deeply aware of his rich Arabian heritage and history but has become disillusioned and disheartened by the seemingly incessant onslaught of Western suspicion, abuse and adverse media attention thrust upon his people. To Ibrahim and his family, it seems as if Western paranoia and prejudice against the Arab has become set in stone. It is to escape this climate of hostility that Ibrahim decides to take his wife, two sons and three daughters on a holiday away from the heat of the Middle Eastern summer and visit an old journalist friend, Mark, a staunch Englishman who has retired to New Zealand.There, they could assimilate a new culture, meet new people with new ideas, and see a land seldom visited by their fellow Arabs and which has therefore remained untouched by the long tentacles of the Islamic extremist. In the weeks that follow, Ibrahim discusses with his old friend the ticklish questions of Western misconception, misunderstanding and the perceived inequalities of his race. Together they are able to dispel the myths and identify the areas of ignorance that prevail in the West and which do so much damage to the image of the Arab. Above all, Ibrahim is able to nurture within his young teenage offspring the seeds of a brighter future, one within which peace and reconciliation between the worlds of Islam and the West are of paramount importance.
Maddy's husband, the poet Michael Donaghy, died suddenly at the age of fifty, leaving her to bring up their young son alone. After the shock of his unexpected death, the funeral and public mourning of this well-loved and respected writer, Maddy had to help her son deal with the loss of his father and come to terms herself with being a lone parent. In this extraordinary account, she describes how grief and bereavement had re-opened the wounds of her past - the loneliness and emotional neglect of her childhood - which must be acknowledged and healed if she was to truly find her way back into life. She learned that there are gifts in pain and tragedy, if you have the courage to look for them. And she came to understand just what the incredible love of her husband had brought her, and how hard it was to lose that. Written with warmth and humour as well as searing honesty, this book takes an unflinching look at both what it means to grieve, and what it means to love.
Taken from the quiet sanctuary of a convent school, where she works as a maid, Aisha is thrown back into the chaotic world of her parents' home in the Tal Ezza'tar refugee camp when the Lebanese civil war begins. From then on she is caught up in a series of tragedies, including the continuous bombardment of the camp by the Phalangists and the subsequent invasion and massacres within the settlement. Aisha's family and friends are torn apart by events beyond their control and although she finds love and marries, amid such violence the decision to start her own family becomes harder still.Set within one of the most bloody conflicts of modern times, this heart-wrenching story shows how women's experience of war is particularly cruel as they confront the dilemma of bringing a new life into a war-zone. Based on seven years of meticulous research, Liana Badr has created an epic novel around the life of one girl. Its accurate historical setting adds force and poignancy. Turning a simple love story into a complex portrayal of Palestinian history, Liana Badr has triumphantly re-told a nation's history for its women.
Ina'am Atalla introduces us to the exotic flavours and colours of Lebanese cuisine using an abundance of wholesome ingredients, combined with fresh herbs and subtle spices, to make delicious and healthy dishes. This book is the product of her wealth of experience and her desire to dispel the complexities and mysteries surrounding Middle Eastern cookery by using simple techniques and easily available ingredients. With her obvious enthusiasm, the author inspires the reader to attempt a variety of easy-to-follow recipes, from the simplest soup to the more complicated main course, and from traditional recipes such as tabbouleh and kibbeh to the more unusual and creative variations that have been developed by her for the menu at her restaurant. Your level of experience is immaterial: supplemented by beautiful colour photography, Ina'am's anecdotes and tips for the cook create the illusion that this is a personal cookery lesson between author and reader, while the book as a whole remains simply a pleasure to read.
Gifted with a mind that continues to impress the elders in his village, Ichmad Hamid struggles with the knowledge that he can do nothing to save his friends and family. Living on Occupied land, his entire village operates in constant fear of losing their homes, jobs and belongings. But more importantly, they fear losing each other. On Ichmad's twelfth birthday, that fear becomes reality. With his father imprisoned, his family's home and possessions confiscated, and his siblings quickly succumbing to hatred in the face of conflict. Ichmad begins an inspiring journey using his intellect to save his poor and dying family. In doing so he reclaims a love for others that was lost through a childhood rife with violence, and discovers a new hope for the future.
"Once Upon a Time in Jerusalem" tells the saga of a Palestinian family living in Jerusalem during the British mandate, and its fate in the diaspora following the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. The story is told by two voices: a mother, who was a child in Jerusalem in the 1930s, and her daughter, who comments on her mother's narrative. The real hero of the narrative, however, is the family home in Old Jerusalem, which was built in the 15th century and which still stands today. Within its walls lived the various members of the extended family whose stories the narrative reveals: parents, children, stepmothers, stepsisters, aunts and uncles, nieces and cousins. This is no idealized, nostalgic narrative of perfect characters or an idyllic past, but a truthful rendition of family life under occupation, in a holy city that was conservative to the extreme. Against a backdrop of violence, much social history is revealed as an authoritarian father, a submissive mother, brothers who were resistance fighters, and an imaginative child struggled to lead a normal life among enemies. That became impossible in 1948, when the narrator, by then a young girl studying in Beirut, realized she could not go home. She traveled to Cairo, where she had to start a new life under difficult conditions, and reconcile herself to the idea of exile. Narrated in a terse, matter-of-fact tone, "Once Upon a Time in Jerusalem" is a bildungsroman in which the child is initiated into loss and despair, and a life about which little is known. The book shows a city of the 1930s from a new perspective: a cosmopolitan Jerusalem where people from all nations and faiths worshiped, married and lived together, until such co-existence came to an end and a new order was enforced.
On the eve of her fortieth birthday Egyptian academic, Professor Hanaa, finds herself alone and unloved. For twenty years she has battled with an impossible love for an unattainable colleague, and has become outcast in a society where family and friends mean everything. Her life is organised into endless routines, and her emotions are hidden behind a facade of stern, but joyless professionalism. The facade begins to crumble, however, when her birthday brings with it the realisation that she is about to turn into an embittered, forty-year-old spinster. Never one to admit defeat, Hanaa determines she will lose her virginity before her birthday, and sets her sights on Khalid, her teaching assistant. An earnest, hardworking and devout young man, Khalid is an unlikely accomplice; however Hanaa's powers of persuasion know no bounds. What ensues is a lively, witty, often sly commentary on gender and power relationships in both academia and the Arab world-a 'campus' novel of a wholly different bent.
A great deal has been written over the years addressing the Palestine-Israel conflict, and the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. However, few works on the subject really present the personal aspect: What is it like to be a refugee? What propels a decent human being to take up arms, to become a freedom fighter or a terrorist? This book tells the remarkable story of one such refugee, following his journey from childhood in the Nahr El Bared Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, becoming a member of the PLO, through to eventual emigration, a new life as an engineer in the United States, and a 'return' trip to historic Palestine. Running parallel to the personal narrative, the book also documents the story of Nahr El Bared itself: the story of a refugee camp that grew from an initial clump of muddy UN tents to become a vibrant trading centre in north Lebanon, before its eventual destruction at the hands of the Lebanese army as they battled with militants from the Fatah Al Islam group in the summer of 2007. Throughout it all, the spirit of the remarkable people of the camp shines through, and the book provides a moving testament to how refugees in Lebanon have managed to persist in their struggle for their right to return, as well as survive socially, economically and politically despite more than sixty years of dispossession, war and repression.
In the ancient Egyptian religion, Seth is the evil god who out of jealousy slays his brother Osiris, the good god of agriculture, to seize the throne. Seth is, however, also the god of the desert and therefore a benevolent champion of desert dwellers like the traditionally nomadic Kel Tamasheq, better known as the Tuareg. In "The Seven Veils of Seth", the world-renowned, Libyan, Tuareg author Ibrahim al-Koni draws on the tension between these two opposing visions of Seth to create a novel that also provides a vivid account of daily life in a Tuareg oasis. Isan, the novel's protagonist, is either Seth himself or a latter-day avatar. A desert-wandering seer and proponent of desert life, he settles for an extended stay in a fertile oasis. If Jack Frost, the personification of the arrival of winter, were to visit a tropical rain forest, the results might be similarly disastrous.Not surprisingly, since this is a novel by Ibrahim al-Koni, infanticide, uxoricide, serial adultery, betrayal, metamorphosis, murder by a proxy animal, ordinary murder, and a life-threatening chase through the desert all figure in the plot, although the novel is also an existential reflection on the purpose of human life. Ibrahim al-Koni typically layers allusions in his works as if he were an artist adding a suggestion of depth to a painting by applying extra washes. Tuareg folklore, Egyptian mythology, Russian literature, and medieval European thought elbow each other for room on the page. One might expect a novel called "The Seven Veils of Seth" to be a heavy-handed allegory. Instead, the reader is left wondering. The truth is elusive, a mirage pulsing at the horizon.
In Irish folk legend, the hero, mystic and warrior-king, Fionn MacCumhaill acquired his great knowledge by tasting a sacred salmon from the Boyne River. Similarly, it is hoped that "Traditional Irish Cooking" will inspire a tantalizing taste for both Ireland and its celebrated cuisine. "Traditional Irish Cooking" is not just an ordinary book of recipes, but also gives an insight into the Irish way of life. Containing around 100 recipes and 21 sauce recipes, it includes both traditional and classic dishes, as well as several 'nouvelle Irish cuisine' recipes, endeavoring to combine the best of local ingredients in a more exotic and imaginative manner than that of classic country cuisine.Each of these recipes is accompanied by an anecdote to give the reader a flavor of Irish life: vivid descriptions of unfamiliar ingredients; quotes on food; restaurant and pub descriptions; local points of interest connected with food; short literary extracts; potted biographies of well-known Irish characters; and details on stout, porter, ale cider and whiskey. This incredibly comprehensive and informative book will appeal to every reader, from the vegetarian to the most avid carnivore, and from the casual snack-maker to the professional chef, with most being quick, easy and simple to prepare, and each recipe having a step-by-step guide to preparation.
A Land without Jasmine is a sexy, satirical detective story about the sudden disappearance of a young female student from Yemen's Sanaa University. Each chapter is narrated by a different character beginning with Jasmine herself. The mystery surrounding her disappearance comes into clearer focus with each self-serving and idiosyncratic account provided by an acquaintance, family member, or detective. As the details surrounding her sudden disappearance emerge the mystery deepens. Sexual depravity, honour, obsession; the motives are numerous and the suspects plentiful. It seems that everyone wants a piece of the charming young student. Family, friends, fellow students and nosey neighbours are quick to make their own judgements on the case, but the truth may be far stranger than anyone anticipates. This short novel has echoes of both the Sherlock Holmes stories and The Catcher in the Rye, as in addition to the mystery and a murder, the novel contains candid discussions of coming of age in a land of sexual repression. Wajdi al-Ahdal is a satirical author with a fresh and provocative voice and an excellent eye for telling the details of his world.
The Knot in the Rug encapsulates the massive upheavals of the first half of twentieth century from a point of view that the English-speaking readership rarely glimpses. The book's heroine, Khanoum, is born in the courts of Persia's Qajar dynasty. The twists and turns in Khanoum's life make for a gripping read, whilst at the same time shedding light on traditional Persian customs of birth, marriage and death, still followed in modern-day Iran. Forced to flee Persia during the Constitutional Revolution of 1906, Khanoum is brought up by her uncle and his immediate family. Her teenage years are marked by her struggles: family tragedy, her horrendous journey through Persia, and her uncertain future. Once in Russia her aunt, a woman of great strength and wisdom, manages to bring some sense of order to their exiled gathering by creating a home akin to what they were accustomed to. However, some years later, the Bolshevik revolution brings another upheaval and they are forced to flee once more; this time to Istanbul. In the fairy tale palaces of the Ottoman Empire Khanoum marries a member of the Ottoman Court. But the newlyweds hardly have time to make plans for their future when they face yet more turmoil; learning of the downfall of the ruling family, they hurriedly escape to France. In Paris with her husband Khanoum at last finds a resting place, but it does not take long before her eventful and tragic destiny once again beckons and she finds herself alone and destitute.