"Mandour’s third novel, the first to be translated into English, presents an enjoyable slice of life in the Lebanese capital….On the whole it flows well and is often wryly funny."—Hurriyet Daily News
"Sahar Mandour conjures modern Beirut in all its frustrating and glorious complexity in this tale of five young women seeking to carve out their place in it."—World Literature Today
"A refreshingly modern, fast-paced novella that is as comfortable talking about female independence as it is a barroom brawl."—The National
"A fast- and quite well-paced slice-of-lives novel, shifting between fast, chatty dialogue and more introspective reflection, and covering a good amount of ground."—the Complete Review
"Sahar Mandour is the voice of Beirut. She captures its wistful contradictions. 32 is a Beiruti novel. Such joy, such sorrow, but more than anything, such wonderful characters."—Vijay Prashad, George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History at Trinity College and author of The Karma of Brown Folk
"32 is a fascinating page-turner; universal in its coming of age anxieties and everyday activities of a young woman and her friends, and yet specific to post-war Beirut in context, ambiance and sensitivity."—Nadje Al-Ali, author of What Kind of Liberation? Women and the Occupation of Iraq
In this finely observed novel, five young Lebanese women navigate their professional and social lives in a city interrupted by random explosions. It is not a war zone, but there is no peace either; Beirut stands at the edge of both. These women, much like their country, have been shaped by the events of a long civil war, their childhood spent in shelters, their adolescence in an unrecognizable city under rapid reconstruction. And here they are now, negotiating the details of their adult lives, fighting to protect their identities, voices, and relationships in a society constantly under questioning.
Talk of politics and gossip by the young and old animate the coffee shops. Heated debates and power dynamics unfold in bars and on the streets. Mandour’s funny and defiant style invites an intimacy, giving readers a glimpse into the absurdities and injustices of everyday life in Lebanon. With empathy and a deep honesty, Mandour narrates the lives of these women who struggle to create their own destiny while at the same time coming to terms with the identity of their Mediterranean city.
Sahar Mandour is a Lebanese Egyptian author who has written four novels. She is a television host and the editor of Shabab, the youth pages of Al Safir, Lebanon’s left-wing newspaper.
Nicole Fares is a translator and is currently completing her PhD in comparative literature and theory. Her translations have appeared in Jadaliyya, the Alchemist Journal of Translation, and World Literature Today.