Wondrous Journeys in the Strange Land
Award-winning tales of a young woman's travel adventures across perilous deserts, seas and empires
In a tent at the foot of a mountain in Palestine, hundreds of years ago, our storyteller and her twin sister are born. Her newlywed parents name her Qamar (Moon), and her sister Shams (Sun). Their small caravan is journeying from the mother’s city back to the father’s remote ancestral village atop the mountain.
This village suffers from isolation—and a curse, which her young family tries to undo. But when both parents’ lives are cut short, Qamar and her sister are left orphans. And so, Qamar decides to pursue her mother’s and father’s dreams of discovering the world—its people, places and stories. With the red book in hand that brought her parents together, she sets out on a daring journey, on caravans and ships, across empires.
Telling tales to survive, Qamar crosses deserts and seas: to Jerusalem and Gaza; Egypt, Tangier, Andalusia and Genoa; Abyssinia, India, the Maldives and Yemen. Kidnapped by bandits, sold as a slave to the House of a mad King, studying with a polymath, disguising as a man and falling in love for the first time—with a pirate: Qamar searches irrepressibly for life, in endless stories within stories.
Sonia Nimr’s richly imagined historical fable recalls the famous travel narratives of the 14th century Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta. But the captivating adventures of our heroine are the wondrous journeys we take when we discover we can do more than we ever dreamed possible, even in strange lands that decree we cannot.
Sonia Nimr is a leading Palestinian author and storyteller who weaves together contemporary stories with folklore for readers of all ages. She won the prestigious 2014 Etisalat Award, and was also shortlisted for the prize for Thunderbird, the first title in a fantasy trilogy. She is also the author of two books in English: Ghaddar the Ghoul and Other Palestinian Stories and A Little Piece of Ground (co-written with Elizabeth Laird).
Marcia Lynx Qualey is a writer and editor who founded ArabLit and ArabLit Quarterly. She co-hosts the BULAQ podcast and has co-translated the co-written Ghady & Rawan (2019).