• The Book of the Sultan’s Seal, Strange Incidents from History in the City of Mars

     

    It’s hard to imagine a debut more thrilling than Youssef Rakha’s groundbreaking The Book of the Sultan’s Seal. The novel is made up of nine chapters, each centered on a drive our hero, Mustafa Çorbacı, takes around greater Cairo—city of post-9/11 Islam. In a series of visions, Çorbacı encounters the spirit of the last Ottoman sultan and embarks on a mission the sultan assigns him. Çorbacı’s trials shed light on the contemporary Arab Muslim’s desperation for a sense of identity: The Book of the Sultan’s Seal is both a suspenseful, erotic, riotous novel and an urgent, unparalleled examination of accounts of Muslim demise.

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  • Always Coca-Cola

     

    Always Coca-Cola is the story of three very different young women attending university in Beirut: Abeer, Jana, and Yasmine. The narrator, Abeer Ward (fragrant rose, in Arabic), daughter of a conservative family, admits wryly that her name is also the name of her father’s flower shop.

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  • Sarmada

     

    Three women struggle against the forces of society, family, and passion in a small Druze village in the south of Syria as the country itself struggles against the forces of the Ottoman Empire, the French Empire, and then the Baath. The village of Sarmada is an enchanting place, but the people who live there don’t much notice it.

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  • The Book of the Sultan’s Sea...

  • Always Coca-Cola...

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Praise for Always Coca-Cola

Praise for

Always Coca-Cola

by Alexandra Chreiteh

translated from the Arabic by Michelle Hartman

Chreiteh is a fresh voice in the Arab world… [She] keeps up a lively dialogue (trialogue?) between the main characters, and eventually they all learn what it means to be 20-somethings in modern Beirut.”
—Kirkus Reviews

“When university student Abeer Ward looks out the window of her Beirut bedroom, she sees a giant Coca-Cola ad across the street featuring her best friend Yana. The influence of the Occident persists not only in the billboard—and Abeer’s Coke-bottle-shaped birthmark—but in the choices she and her friends make…Chreiteh’s character development and figurative language is strongand there are moments of humor.”
Publishers Weekly

 “Lebanon is an Arab country that faces west. The Lebanese embrace Western institutions—i.e., European café culture, American retail brands—but Lebanon remain within the Arab world…This makes cosmopolitan Beirut a most interesting hybrid: a westernized Arab city. It’s against this backdrop that Alexandra Chreiteh and Michelle Hartman write Always Coca-Cola, a lightly sketched novella about young women in contemporary Lebanon.…Always Coca-Cola’s best moments illustrate the fault-line between tradition and modernity… The author’s greatest talent may be her ability to use a little scene to make a powerful point…The femininity vs. feminism tension at the book’s core could be examined just as easily in numerous settings, even certain subcultures within the U.S….Always Coca-Cola is about the simmering tension between tradition and modernity as experienced by young middle-class Lebanese women. This is a great premise for a novel an intelligent little book, and worth the read.”
New York Journal of Books

wonderful, head-shaking, humorous and sometimes sad journey through and around the forces menacing young women’s lives and bodies, in Lebanon and beyond…”
—Egyptian Independent

Savage and heady debut… Always Coca-Cola… embeds, in a deceptively simple story, a razor-sharp commentary on how young women in Beirut today are buffeted by the alternately conflicting and conspiring forces of hegemony, capitalism, and patriarchy—without, vitally, ever using such dry terms…we see the serious intention behind the gentle satire…Remarkably, given its short length—a little over a hundred pages— and its uncomplicated, at times even frothy, style, Always Coca-Cola comes off as a work of searing intensity that powerfully conjures the atmosphere of contemporary Beirut; it’s a testament to translator Michelle Hartman’s skill that a novel written mostly, but not entirely, in Modern Standard Arabic, the ‘literary language’ used in the Arab world, reads so naturally and humorously in English…”
Words without Borders