Author(s): Hanan Al-Shaykh
New York, 2001 As Hanan al-Shaykh travels through the streets of Manhattan to her daughter's wedding her mind is elsewhere. Remembering own secret ceremony some thirty years ago, her thoughts turn to her mother, Kamila, who was sacrificed into marriage: her absent mother who, in recent, reconciled years, has pleaded with Hanan, her daughter the writer, to tell this story. Lebanon, 1934. Kamila is nine years old when she is taken from the poverty of her childhood village in southern Lebanon to Beirut. Though she has never learned to read or write, stories, poetry and films are her passion, and she longs to go to school. Instead, she is to lead a life of domestic servitude-and worse, she has been secretly betrothed to her brother-in-law, Abu-Hussein, a man eighteen years her senior. A welcome escape from the strict household, Kamila is apprenticed to Fatme the seamstress. One day Kamila catches sight of a beautiful young man, Muhammad, sitting by a fountain. At the age of thirteen, for what will be the first and only time in her life, Kamila falls deeply in love. The following year, to her fury and anguish, Kamila is married to Abu-Hussein. That night, he forces himself upon his child-bride and a daughter is conceived: four years later, Kamila's second daughter, Hanan, is born. In secret, but risking everything, Kamila continues to see Muhammad. But in choosing to follow her heart, she must also, agonisingly, leave behind her beloved daughters Beautifully evoking the fabric of life in Lebanon, The Locust and the Bird is a remarkable and intensely moving memoir. Told in a voice that is entirely distinctive and authentic, this unique portrait of the life of one woman gives us an astonishing insight into the lives of many others in the Arab world.
A completly original memoir that spans four generations of Arab women, focussing on the extraordinary life of the author's mother.For fans of A Thousand Splendid Suns, Reading Lolita in Tehran and The Bookseller of Kabul.Her novel Only in London gained widespread critical acclaim and was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.
Praise for Only in London 'An exquisite, dryly romantic story about expatriate Arab women' Adam Mars Jones, Books of the Year, Observer 'Only in London is a funny, tender, erotic take of love and loss among the Arab diaspora in London' Susha Guppy, Books of the Year, Independent 'Devastatingly entertaining fiction teeming with ideas: memory and exile, language, desire and identity' Literary Review 'A fascinating, picaresque tale told with humour and compassion' Independent
One of the contemporary Arab world's most acclaimed writers, Hanan al-Shaykh grew up in Beirut. She is the author of the collection I Sweep the Sun off Rooftops and her novels invlude The Story of Zahra, Women of Sand and Myrrh and Beirut Blues. She lives in London with her husband and two children.