This spellbinding novel narrates the many-layered recollections of a hallucinating man in devastated Beirut. The desolate, almost surreal, urban landscape is enriched by the unfolding of the family sagas of Niqula Mitri and his beloved Shamsa, the Kurdish maid. Mitri reminisces about his Egyptian mother and his father who came back to settle in Beirut after a long stay in Egypt. Shamsa in turn relates her story, the myriad adventures of her parents and grand-parents who moved from Iraqi Kurdistan to Beirut. Translated by Marilyn Booth.
Born in Beirut, Hoda Barakat earned her BA in French language and literature from Beirut University in 1975, and in 1976 left for Paris to continue her education. She then worked in higher education, journalism and research. She is the author of a collection of short stories and two other novels, one of which, The Stones of Laughter, was published in an English translation in 1994. She now lives in Paris. She has been longlisted for International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2013 for her novel The Kingdom of This Earth.
Marilyn Booth received her DPhil in Arabic literature and modern Middle East history from St Antony's College, Oxford University. She translated numerous works of modern Arabic fiction, including The Open Door by Latifa Zayat (AUC Press 2000).