Bloomsbury £8.99 (302pp) (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop : 08430 600
The Locust and the Bird, By Hanan Al-Shaykh
Friday 09 April 2010
Locked into marriage at 14, Hanan Al-Shaykh's mother Kamila pined for the glamour of movies and poetry – and for her true love, the musical, romantic youth Muhammad. In this remarkable leap of imagination and empathy, the Lebanese novelist reverses the usual optic of family memoirs by recreating her mother's headstrong but stardust-sprinkled journey through life.
Only at its start and end does the writer speak as herself. Rebellion, divorce and, later, civil war in Beirut split Kamila from her daughter, and so this testament at one remove forms part of a long voyage of recovery and renewal.
"My mother wrote this book," Al-Shaykh insists. "She is the one who spread her wings." Mischievous, passionate, lyrical, this virtuoso feat of ventriloquism keeps its sparkle and its tenderness in Roger Allen's translation.
Arts & Ents blogs
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 3 Dear 'The Sun', breast cancer isn't sexy
- 4 Teacher shows sex tape featuring herself to pupils during class by mistake
- 5 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability