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The Loved Ones: A Modern Arabic Novel (Women Writing the Middle East)by Alia Mamdouh
Synopses & Reviews
“Leaves an indelible impression. [The Loved Ones] is rich with family and neighbors and [Alia Mamdouh] notes all of their subtle interactions and secrets.”—Library Journal
“Ferocious, visceral descriptions . . . give a powerful sense not only of Suhaila’s world but also of the way we make and understand memories.”—Booklist
“Often intense and lyrical.”—Kirkus Reviews
This winner of the Naguib Mahfouz Prize for Literature mingles memories of the past with the shifting voices of the present when the estranged son of an Iraqi exile flies from his home in Toronto to visit her in Paris. As his ailing mother, the once-vibrant Suhaila, lies in a hospital bed, he acquaints himself with her constellation of close friends. Immediately, he becomes immersed in the complex relationships he has fought so hard to avoid: with his mother and his war-torn homeland. Alia Mamdouh weaves a magical tale of the human condition in this stunning and beautifully written novel of faith, family, and hope.
Alia Mamdouh is the author of essays, short stories, and four novels, including the most widely translated, Naphtalene. Born in Iraq, she now lives in exile in Paris.
Marilyn Booth is a translator of Middle Eastern fiction and autobiography. She received her BA from Harvard-Radcliffe and her DPhil from Oxford University, and has taught at Brown University and The American University in Cairo. Currently, she is visiting associate professor of comparative literature at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Hélène Cixous is a world-renowned French feminist theorist, critic, essayist, novelist, and playwright.
"Vibrant, tortured and stubborn memories flood overlapping narratives in this fifth novel from Iraqi novelist Mamdouh, winner of the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Arabic Literature. The morose Nader leaves his wife and young son in Canada to attend to his estranged mother Suhaila, an Iraqi expatriate living in Paris. Suhaila, a charming but depressive former dancer, has fallen into a coma, and her beloved women friends hold prayerful court around her hospital bed. Nader is trapped between a childhood suffocated under Suhaila's adoration of his every bodily function and a manhood haunted by the war-torn homeland that claimed his abusive father. Suhaila's friends simultaneously blame Nader for abandoning his mother and insist that she will 'come back' for her son. As the women dote on Suhaila's inert body with melodramatic urgency, the bewildered and beleaguered Nader is seduced into their awed reverence for his mother, longing for her with a fervor that eclipses thoughts of his own family. Written in exile, Mamdouh's meditation on a mother and son fighting against a lifetime of war and estrangement is as colorful as Suhaila's dancing and as enigmatic as her silent, sleeping body." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
A Mahfouz Medal-winner that weaves together a tender tale of bittersweet love between a mother and son.
About the Author
Alia Mamdouh was born in Baghdad in 1944 and has been a journalist and writer for over thirty years. She has published four novels, two collections of short stories, and numerous critical essays. Since going into exile in 1982, she has lived and worked in London, Cairo, and Beirut. Currently, she resides at the Georges-Pompidou Centre in Paris.
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