Mother of Strangers: A Novel

Mother of Strangers: A Novel

Suad Amiry

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Set in Jaffa in between 1947 and 1951, this fable-like novel - based on a true story - is a heartbreaking tale of young love during the beginning of the destruction of Palestine and displacement of its people. At times darkly humorous and ironic but also profoundly moving, this novel based on a true story, follows the lives of a gifted 15-year-old mechanic, Subhi, and 13-year-old Shams, a peasant girl he hopes to marry one day. At first we see the prosperous life of this cosmopolitan city on the Mediterranean - with its old cinemas, lively cafes and brothels, open air markets, a bustling port and Jaffa's world famous orange groves - through the lives of the families of Subhi and Shams, but particularly through Subhi. As the story evolves, the indiscriminate bombing of Jaffa and the displacements of Palestinian families begin, and we get a fascinating though dark close-up of how those who remained survived. This novel is a cinematic, though devastating, account of one of the most dramatic and least known chapters of Palestinian history. It is a portrait of a city and a people irrevocably changed.


"[Mother of Strangers]invites readers to consider the human cost of the ongoing, tragic conflict in the Middle East. As always, the past is not past."
--Washington Independent Review of Books


"Based on a true story, Mother of Strangers is a fable-like historical novel of young love . . . Darkly humorous and touching . . . We're shown this entire messy, glorious universe that existed before war rained down."
--Oprah Daily

"A powerful story of love, loss, and the destruction of a nation."
--Booklist, starred review

"Stirring . . . achingly alive . . . Amiry's eye-opening story will keep readers turning the pages."
--Publishers Weekly

"I was bedazzled by
Mother of Strangers. How extraordinarily brave to weave a story about the destruction of one's city, the displacement of family--separating lovers young and old--and the beginning of the end of Palestine. I loved that Suad Amiry based her novel on a true story. I loved the humor as I clutched my heart."
--Hanan al Shaykh, author of Beirut Blues

"Mother Of Strangers is a passionate and a deeply moving story of the price Palestinians paid for the creation of Israel."
--Michael Palin, author, actor, and member of Monty Python

About the Author

SUAD AMIRY is an architect, founder and director of RIWAQ, Centre for Architectural Conservation, in Ramallah. She grew up in Amman, Damascus, Beirut, Cairo, and got her B.A. in architecture at the American University of Beirut, her M.A. in Urban Planning at the University of Michigan and her Ph.D. from Edinburgh. Amiry participated in the 1991-1993 Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations in Washington, D.C. She is the author of six books of non-fiction and several monographs on architecture, and was awarded Italy's Viareggio-Versilia Prize in 2004 for Sharon and my Mother-in-Law. She lives in Ramallah.

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