Book review – The hidden lights of objects

the hidden lightsThe hidden light of objects
By Mai Al-Nakib
published by Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation
ISBN 9789992195413
price £8.99 paperback

Winner of the 2014 First Book Award from Edinburgh International Book Festival.

Set against the backdrop of Middle Eastern unrest – the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait,the American occupation of Iraq,the Isreali-Palestinain conflict – this collection of stories focuses on the personal – looking at lives of people.

A young girl, renamed Amerika in honour of the United State’s role in the liberation of Kuwait, finds her name has become a barometer of her country’s growing hostility toward the West. A middle-aged man dying from cancer looks back on his extramarital affairs and the abiding forgiveness of his wife.

The headlines tell of war, unrest, and religious clashes. But if you look beyond, you will see life in the Middle East as it is really lived-adolescent love, the fragility of marriage, pain of the most daily kind. Mai Al-Nakib’s luminous stories unveil the lives of ordinary people-and the power of objects to hold extraordinary memories.

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