"There is something Gandhian in the political vision which guides this book. . . . Accomplished, sympathetic, powerful and compelling."—Michael C. Beard, author of Hedayat’s Owl as a Western Novel
Miriam Cooke’s melic prose animates the existence of each of the women portrayed in her new novel. With Samya, we live in Palestine of the 1920s and are imprisoned during the imposition of the British Mandate; with Assia we experience the massacre of Deir Assin, the death of a son, and the establishment of the State of Israel; with Maryam we survive war and diaspora—the Suez War, the Intifada, the Iran-Iraq War, and the scattering of a family to three different countries. Finally, with the mute painter Araf’s rape, we experience the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and when Hibba returns to Jerusalem the circle is complete. The historical and political aspects of Hayati (a term of endearment, literally meaning “my life”) chart fresh territory for the American reader, showing us a Palestine and an Arab people we do not know from the inside and from a deeply imaginative and humanistic perspective. Cooke makes evident a trenchant grasp of the mechanics of everyday living—the politics may be Palestine-specific, but the theme of endurance is universal. Many novels entertain, while others inform. In this effective and dramatic post-modern novel, Cooke succeeds in accomplishing both.
Miriam Cooke, professor of Arabic literature at Duke University, has written extensively on Middle East literature. She is the author of Women and the War Story and War’s Other Voices: Women Writers on the Lebanese Civil War (the latter also published by Syracuse University Press).
5 x 7.25, 0 pages