‘Dunya', New Novel by Alawiyah Sobh: A Look into Pandora’s Mid-Eastern Box

Rafif Rida Sidawi

In her new novel, “Dunya” (Life), recently published in Beirut by Dar Al Adab, author Alawiyah Sobh offers a radical critique of contemporary society. In her previous novel, “Maryam Al Hakaya” (The Stories of Maryam), Sobh offered a similar critique of the past, of her grandparents’ generation, and exposed a history of social hypocrisy and covert violence that has dictated relationships between individuals and groups in the Arab patriarchal structure.

From Kansas to Beirut: A Tale of Two Women

Lynne Rogers

Sarah Houssayni’s debut novel, “Fireworks,” begins at the onset of the Israeli 2006 bombing of Lebanon in retaliation for the Hezbollah kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers. This promising  novel interweaves the story of two single women, one a 30-year old American nurse from Kansas and one young, 16-year old Lebanese teenager, both trying to negotiate family pressures while searching for love.

The Catcher in the Bulgur?

Coming of Age Story Witnesses Tribulations of Growing up Arab American in Brooklyn
D.W. Aossey
Coming of age stories can be tricky. In no other genre do authors willingly stick out their necks, relying on a single, flawed adolescent to heroically carry the day. No clever plot twist can save our young protagonists if they’re not up to the task; no quirky sidekicks or kinky lovers can plaster over the holes. The vulnerability of a Holden Caulfield, the dimwitted charm of a Forrest Gump, or even the precocious morality of a Kevin Arnold was always destined to shine. And then we have Michael Haddad, the teenager at the center of “Arab Boy Delivered” by author Michael Aziz Zarou.
It’s the early 1960s. A Palestinian family takes over a neighborhood grocery store in an Italian part of Brooklyn, where working-class residents pop in and out for bread, milk, beer, and cigarettes. They’re mild to outright discriminatory against Arabs. “Camel jockey assholes, go back to the desert!” comes up more than once; vandalism and other mischief loom. The police have little help. Michael, the young son of old country proprietors Aziz and Jamila Haddad, searches his parent’s worried expressions and philosophizes. He listens to 60s music and goes through his coming-of-age routine, seeming more grown-up than he should be. He looks at himself in the mirror and thinks. 

Book Offers Overview of Women’s Growing Influence on Wide Range of Arab Affairs, From Combating Pedophilia to Advocating for LGBTQ Rights

Lynne Rogers

In ‘Women Rising: In and Beyond the Arab Spring,” editors Rita Stephan and Mounira M. Charrad compile 40 informative essays that contextualize female activism throughout the Arab world. They characterize women’s participation in the Arab Spring not as a spontaneous moment of resistance but as an extension of previous activism that has continued beyond the Arab Spring. The editors assert that regardless of the shortcomings of the Arab Spring, throughout the Arab world, “citizens now realize the power of collective action: protest and campaigning.” In her foreword, Suad Joseph classifies “Women Rising” as a “volume of hope grounded in history and the lived present.” This collection verifies this hope by breaking the silence and celebrating the reform around gender issues.

The Wonders of a Village Childhood

Lynne Rogers
Stories My Father Told Me: Memories of a Childhood in Syria and Lebanon
By Elia Zughaib and Helen Zughaib
Cune Press, 2020
“Stories My Father Told Me: Memories of a Childhood in Syria and Lebanon” is a delightful collection of short one-page stories told to Elia Zughaib by his father, accompanied by paintings by his daughter, Helen Zughaib.


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