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The Waiting List: An Iraqi Woman's Tales of…

The Waiting List: An Iraqi Woman's Tales of Alienation

by Daisy Al-Amir

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This book of short stories and poems fulfills the "book set in the Middle East" and "book of 100 pages or less" categories of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge-2 2016.

[b:The Waiting List: An Iraqi Woman's Tales of Alienation|407414|The Waiting List An Iraqi Woman's Tales of Alienation|Daisy Al-Amir|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1347388418s/407414.jpg|396736] is an appropriate title for this selection of stories by Daisy Al-Amir, as the stories are mostly set in liminal places, places of transition, such as airline terminals, modes of transportation such as cars, buses or airplanes, temporary residences, such as hotels or houses in which the characters (who are nameless) never feel at home. If they ever do come to feel a sense of permanence in their residence, it's ripped out from under them by a war which seems to have no purpose but to uproot people and do violence to their lives.

Ms. Al-Amir is a great writer, and her stories capture the sense of timeless impermanence experienced by those who have often had cause to move frequently and suddenly throughout their lives.

In one story, "Fires of the Past," her character leaves a house where she has lived for 27 years, leaving behind her precious papers and books and mementos, in the care of her neighbors. She moves to a foreign country and believes she will not be able to bring these items with her. During the Lebanese war, a bomb drops on her house. Her neighbors, eager to save her belongings from the flames, soak all her papers and books with water. They put out the fire; but the precious belongings are ruined. Once again, the futility of clinging to the past is restated.

These characters are in a constant state of flux, in a liminal world between worlds.

There were some typos and errors, but not enough to detract from the overall pleasure of reading the stories.

Other than "The Kite Runner," and "The Thousand and One Nights" when I was a child, I haven't read Middle Eastern literature, but I think I would like to read more stories from Middle Eastern women. This was an unusual find and I'm glad I stumbled upon it. ( )
  harrietbrown | Jun 24, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0292790678, Paperback)

Daisy Al-Amir is one of the more visible figures in women's fiction in the Arab world today. This collection of stories, originally published in Lebanon as Ala La'ihat al-Intizar, is the most recent of her five publications. Her stories intimately reflect women's experiences in the chaotic worlds of the Lebanese civil war and the rise of Saadam Hussain as Iraq's leader. Set in Iraq, Cyprus, and Lebanon, the stories shed light on an unusual Middle East refugee experience--that of a cultural refugee, a divorced woman who is educated, affluent, and alone.

Al-Amir is also a poet and novelist, whose sensual prose grows out of a long tradition of Iraqi poetry. But one also finds existential themes in her works, as Al-Amir tries to balance what seems fated and what seems arbitrary in the turbulent world she inhabits. She deals with time and space in a minimalist, surreal style, while studying the disappointments of life through the subjective lens of memory. Honestly facing the absence of family and the instability of place, Al-Amir gives lifelike qualities to the inanimate objects of her rapidly changing world.

In addition to the stories, two examples of the author's experimental poems are included. In her introduction, Mona Mikhail places these stories and poems in the context of contemporary Islamic literature and gender studies.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:29 -0400)

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