Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Jonathan Cape, 2023
After years away from her family’s homeland, and reeling from a disastrous love affair, actress Sonia Nasir returns to Haifa to visit her older sister Haneen. While Haneen made a life here commuting to Tel Aviv to teach at the university, Sonia remained in London to focus on her acting career and now dissolute marriage. On her return, she finds her relationship to Palestine is fragile, both bone-deep and new.
When Sonia meets the charismatic and candid Mariam, a local director, she joins a production of Hamlet in the West Bank. Soon, Sonia is rehearsing Gertrude’s lines in classical Arabic with a dedicated group of men who, in spite of competing egos and priorities, all want to bring Shakespeare to that side of the wall. As opening night draws closer and the warring intensifies, it becomes clear just how many obstacles stand before the troupe. Amidst it all, the life Sonia once knew starts to give way to the daunting, exhilarating possibility of finding a new self in her ancestral home.
Timely, thoughtful, and passionate, Isabella Hammad’s highly anticipated second novel is an exquisite story of the connection to be found in family and shared resistance.
“Outstanding. Next-level. Aesthetically, intellectually, emotionally and culturally satisfying. It is astonishing but true that Isabella Hammad is incapable of striking a false note. She immerses her heroine in volatile territory with the accuracy, compassion and coolness of a surgical knife sliding into a diseased body. The result is a stunning beauty — an eye-opening, uplifting novel that grants its vulnerable cast and their endeavors a rare and graceful dignity.” — Leila Aboulela, author of River Spirit
Isabella Hammad is the author of The Parisian. She was awarded the Plimpton Prize for Fiction, the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Palestine Book Award and a Betty Trask Award. She has received fellowships from MacDowell, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Lannan Foundation.