"This collection offers rich material for teachers and readers of Arabic literature, women’s literature, Middle Eastern literature, world literature, as well as creative writing classes. The author is a significant figure in Arabic literature, her work is worthy of greater attention, and her voice distinctive."—Nancy Berg, Washington University, St. Louis
"Extremely well done, thoughtful and careful, and . . . The themes and issues evoked in this collection are urgent, thought provoking and very real."—Michelle Hartman, McGill University
The carefully crafted, subtle, and humorous stories in Packaged Lives show Zangana at her best as a fiction writer. She portrays her subjects keenly, sensitively, and lovingly but without compromise. Iraqis living in exile come to life in her narratives as men and women who are caught between two worlds. They cannot return to their homeland and are forced to wait for news of Iraq from afar. At the same time, they are unable to fully adjust to life in Britain and make a new home for themselves. The question “What is home?” is at the heart of each story in this collection. Her protagonists, who are stuck in ready-made lives, or “packaged lives,” struggle to set themselves free from a web of relationships in which they are entangled. Art, poetry, and nature provide lines of escape. The relief may be fleeting, but the peace of mind and serenity are reached through the moment of epiphany at the end of each story, a much-needed balm.
Haifa Zangana is an Iraqi Kurdish writer and activist. She is the author of Women on a Journey: Between Baghdad and London, City of Widows: An Iraqi Woman’s Account of War and Resistance, Dreaming of Baghdad, and Party for Thaera: Palestinian Women Writing Life, among others.
Wen-chin Ouyang is professor of Arabic and comparative literature at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She is the author of Poetics of Love in the Arabic Novel: Nation-State, Modernity and Tradition, and Politics of Nostalgia in the Arabic Novel: Nation-State, Modernity and Tradition. She has been working towards Arabic-Chinese comparative literary and cultural studies, including Silk Road studies.
5 x 8, 168 pages