Synopses & Reviews
The four interlocking narratives that make up this extraordinary novel belong to four women who live in the same apartment building in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war. There is Lilian with her two children, desperate to emigrate, with or without her husband. Warda cannot recover from the loss of her daughter, and finds that no matter how many times she goes over it, the story of her life no longer makes sense. Camilia has returned to Beirut to make a film about her former homeland, but becomes irrevocably caught up in its violence. Maha remains in the building even as her family, her neighbors, her city and country fracture around her. As the war continues each day, unending, divisions between past and present begin to break down. Younes's intimate, haunting attention to these women's lives creates an unforgettable portrait not only of her characters but of the nature of war. Here, loss is the city's most constant resident and its story will inevitably overcome all the rest.
"In this affecting debut, Lebanese novelist Younes artfully presents the overlapping struggles of four woman living in the same Beirut apartment building during the bloody, stop-start Lebanese civil war of 1975 1990. While the city slides into violent chaos, Lilian watches as those around her break under the weight of grief until the desire to emigrate is so strong that she begins living out of suitcases, even bringing them down to the nearby bomb shelter. Crumbling emotionally, Warda pines for her daughter, Sara, from whom she is separated by the fighting. Maha, separated from her lover by the hostilities, remains in the building for the duration of the war, adjusting the rhythm of her everyday activities to accommodate the swelling violence. Camilia, the fourth woman, returns to Lebanon after a long time away to film a war documentary and moves in with Maha, a friend of a friend. Maha and Camilia's stories are the most interlinked, and it is through their combined perspectives that the book reaches a moving climax. Younes delivers a fractured Beirut with acute empathy and insight." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)