In the dark of night, Hanan al-Hashimi awakens from a nightmare, confused and shaken. Roaming the house in search of some reassurance, she is drawn towards the streak of light under her husband's bedroom door. Little does she know that the beckoning glow will turn her life on its head...
In the dark of night, Hanan al-Hashimi awakens from a nightmare, confused and shaken. Roaming the house in search of some reassurance, she is drawn towards the streak of light under her husband’s bedroom door. Little does she know that the beckoning glow will turn her life on its head, unsettling her fragile mind and sending her servant Aliyah tumbling back to the dusty alleyways of her childhood.
Banished from her mistress’s villa in the small hours of the morning, Aliyah’s route back to her old neighbourhood is paved with the memories of the family she left behind and the mistress she betrayed.
Exhausted by the night’s events, both maid and mistress seek refuge in sleep. In their dreams, the women’s memories – of troubled childhoods, loneliness, love and their lives together – combine seamlessly to narrate the story of two Damascene women’s search for security and tenderness. From the tinroofed shack of Aliyah’s family home, to the isolated grandeur of Hanan’s imprisoning villa, the characters’ recollections journey through Damascus, painting a portrait of the city in all of its contradictions: poverty and luxury, dormancy and change.
Samar Yazbek is a Syrian writer and journalist, born in Jableh in 1970. She is the author of several works of fiction. An outspoken critic of the Assad regime, but also of what she identifies as erroneous perceptions of ideological conformity within the Syrian Alawite community, Yazbek has been deeply involved in the Syrian uprising since it broke out in March, 2011. Fearing for the life of her daughter she was forced to flee her country and now lives in hiding. Yazbek was awarded the PEN/Pinter International Writer of Courage Award in 2012, awarded to an author of outstanding literary merit who casts an 'unflinching' eye on the world. She is also the author of the novel Cinnamon (2012).