Story of Zahra ), finally succumbs to her illiterate mother Kamila’s haranguing to writ"/>

The Locust and the Bird

Hanan al-Shaykh, Author, Hanan Shaykh, Author . Pantheon $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-307-37820-0

Al-Shaykh, a Lebanese journalist and author of six novels (including Story of Zahra ), finally succumbs to her illiterate mother Kamila’s haranguing to write her story. The result falls somewhere between memoir and biography as she recreates and undoubtedly takes literary license with her mother’s history. Kamila and her brother grow up in poverty, estranged from their father, until their mother moves them to Beirut to live with their older siblings from her first marriage in the 1930s. Soon, one of their sisters dies of rabies and the family marries 14-year-old Kamila unwillingly to the widower, Abu-Hussein, 18 years her elder. Kamila torments her husband to show her displeasure, but bears him two children by the age of 17. Her starry-eyed love of the cinema is all that assuages her unhappiness but also fuels her affair with a man her own age, Muhammed. After the 10-year affair has shamed both their families, she is granted a divorce from Abu-Hussein but must leave her two daughters behind, including the author, Hanan. Kamila has five more children with Muhammed. Though at times Kamila’s life feels overly condensed, the author’s journalistic talent reveals itself in her ability to get past her own abandonment to paint Kamila as a vivid, willful girl who lived as though she were the heroine of a great film. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/01/2009
Release date: 08/01/2009
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FORMATS
Paperback - 302 pages - 978-0-307-47231-1
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-4088-0007-2
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-20415-7
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-307-37836-1
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