From Lebanon’s golden age, through years of civil conflict and its aftermath, these women offer a captivating portrait of a country in flux. Well-known authors such as Emily Nasrallah, Hanan al-Shaykh and Alawiya Sobh, alongside newer voices share the desire to push boundaries, tackling subjects from the crippling effects of war in past decades, through longing for romantic adventures in a conservative society, to the functioning of families across the divides of emigration and generational conflict.
The characters in these stories are on the brink of something – whether it be religious or social divides, or sexual awakening. The language reflects the great tension, and the great beauty in their transformation. And the collection as a whole reveals the rich diversity of the complex multi-cultural society out of which these stories have emerged.
About the Contributors
Roseanne Saad Khalaf is Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at the American University of Beirut. Her publications include Hikayat: Short Stories by Lebanese Women, Once Upon a Time in Lebanon and Lebanon: Four Journeys to the Past, Themes.
'Hikayat has established authors, promising newcomers and oodles of attitude. ... The book spans the breach between urban and rural, young and old, provincial and cosmopolitan, rich and poor, anglophone and francophone, rebellious sex bomb and too-chaste-to-be-believed, gay and straight, traditional and modern, home and exile.'
Daily Star Lebanon
'In turn lyrical, sensuous, comic and ironic ... rare and fascinating ... valuable ammunition against the impoverished imagination of political discourse ... it is the quality of subtle, evocative writing here that makes [Hikayat] remarkable.'
'Insight into another culture is a strong lure for the fiction reader. But what we experience in these twenty-six stories by Lebanese women is a sense of recognition ... One has to admire the courage of these women who are breaking taboos by writing about love, sex and marriage.'
Times Literary Supplement
'Many layered, haunting, sensuously rich and often threatening to the status quo ... Characters grope for a way of life, improvising, struggling to mourn or to love in relationships which have too often been blown apart. The fragments are tragic, dazzling, disturbing, and even comic ... such moments show more than a thousand news broadcasts.'
'As the authors cope with endlessly shifting circumstances amid ceaseless political instability, so their characters feel their families fragment, see their childhood innocence shattered by religious division, yearn after lost sweethearts, homelands and futures.'