Arab Today, arab today life that is neither here nor there
Last Updated : GMT 13:14:04
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today

Life that is neither here nor there

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Life that is neither here nor there

Washington - Arabstoday

When Barack Obama won his groundbreaking first term as president of the United States, the Egyptian author Miral Al Tahawy had only just settled in the US. It was an incredible time, she remembers, even for someone from her part of the world. "It felt a little like Obama belonged to us all, somehow," she says. "It meant that the minority could feel that it was possible for everyone to have their 'moment', it was such a sign of hope. But sadly, they were all just dreams."It feels strangely apt that her fourth novel, Brooklyn Heights, was published in English in the month that Obama won another four years at the White House, not least because the book begins with Hend, a woman in her late 30s, arriving in New York during the presidential election. She has her 8-year-old son tucked under one arm, having fled a marriage and a country. Wearing badges emblazoned with "Change", they watch the "cataclysmic enthusiasm" of New Yorkers welcoming in the first black president. As Hend realises, they are attaching themselves to words that "make them feel they have become part of this map, a part of its deepest aspirations". But Hend, initially, has no work. She lives in an apartment "no bigger than a small matchbox with a window". As she ponders her fraught existence in a strange land, she is repeatedly drawn back to the colourful, often painful, memories of her childhood in Egypt. It's a solemn, quiet book which nevertheless deserved its shortlisting in the 2011 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. "When I arrived in America, there was a really sudden moment, where I could see the place where I came from and understood the distance I was from it," she says from Arizona, where she works at Arizona State University. "I really wanted to try and capture that in a novel. Perhaps you can't understand yourself and your country unless you are somewhere else and can look at your home from a different perspective." Al Tahawy is keen to emphasise that Brooklyn Heights is a work of fiction, but it certainly reflects her own experiences - mourning the death of her mother and approaching her 40s, she also brought her young son to Brooklyn as she began a post-doctoral fellowship. But she's wise to draw on her own life; it lends an authenticity to a character who is lonely, often depressed and not exactly easy to admire. "When I came to America, I did feel free for the first time," she says of a life that has seen her become involved in gender politics and campaigns for women's rights and social freedoms in Egypt. "You leave your home country not necessarily to find happiness but because you see the country collapsing everywhere around you. When that happens, it becomes impossible to think about your future." What Al Tahawy found, and explores through Hend, is that the complications don't cease when you leave. "You seek acceptance and integration, but you soon realise you can't really become a part of American culture. The sad thing is, you're geographically in America, but you really live somewhere else when you close the front door - the place of your memory. I was really thinking about this when I was writing about Hend." The book itself has an interesting identity, too: it doesn't have the warm, tight plotting of a second generation Arab-American author such as Diana Abu-Jaber and is more recognisably, as Al Tahawy admits, an "Arab novel". But she hopes it can "dance between two cultures". "That's the space I was trying to explore, both in the narrative and the style," she says. "Hend is basically a mirror to talk about the kind of societies we have in Egypt and America. What the book ends up saying is that actually we're pretty similar. It's not, in the end, so much about where you are. What defines you is your identity as a human being, your personal history." As for Al Tahawy, does she now feel at home in America? "Honestly, since the revolution in Egypt, it feels like I'm living in one place and my soul is somewhere else. But this other home has lost its usual meaning in that it's not safe and secure. What I can say is that living here has set me free, let me grow and given my life and writing a different perspective." But there is a downside. "It's so hectic, so, well, American," she laughs, "that I now can't find time to write a new novel." From : The National.

Name *

E-mail *

Comment Title*

Comment *

: Characters Left

Mandatory *

Terms of use

Publishing Terms: Not to offend the author, or to persons or sanctities or attacking religions or divine self. And stay away from sectarian and racial incitement and insults.

I agree with the Terms of Use

Security Code*

Arab Today, arab today life that is neither here nor there Arab Today, arab today life that is neither here nor there

 



Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today Nohan Seyam designs beautiful accessories

GMT 20:02 2017 Tuesday ,21 February

Nohan Seyam designs beautiful accessories
Arab Today, arab today Tourism shows signs of recovery

GMT 09:59 2017 Monday ,20 February

Tourism shows signs of recovery
Arab Today, arab today Sarah Belamesh designs antiques of "ceramic"

GMT 19:45 2017 Monday ,20 February

Sarah Belamesh designs antiques of "ceramic"
Arab Today, arab today Top Yemen commander killed

GMT 09:55 2017 Wednesday ,22 February

Top Yemen commander killed
Arab Today, arab today To probe sexual harassment claims

GMT 10:08 2017 Tuesday ,21 February

To probe sexual harassment claims
View News in Arabic - Culture: تمثيل
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today To hold social dialogue over secondary school

GMT 07:43 2017 Wednesday ,22 February

To hold social dialogue over secondary school
Arab Today, arab today 63-Year-Old Woman Delivers Baby

GMT 12:35 2017 Tuesday ,21 February

63-Year-Old Woman Delivers Baby
Arab Today, arab today Milan laughs while Rome cries

GMT 10:28 2017 Wednesday ,22 February

Milan laughs while Rome cries
Arab Today, arab today Pluto's unruly moons

GMT 06:31 2015 Thursday ,04 June

Pluto's unruly moons
Arab Today, arab today Nissan enhances sales in most markets

GMT 14:08 2017 Monday ,20 February

Nissan enhances sales in most markets
Arab Today, arab today Competes Sweden and Germans by S90

GMT 22:36 2017 Thursday ,16 February

Competes Sweden and Germans by S90
Arab Today, arab today Janat pleased for issuing 'Good Morning'

GMT 06:41 2017 Monday ,20 February

Janat pleased for issuing 'Good Morning'
Arab Today, arab today Small ponds have outsized impact

GMT 15:53 2017 Tuesday ,21 February

Small ponds have outsized impact

GMT 06:34 2017 Sunday ,19 February

Ahmed Fahmy stresses he did not ignore singing

GMT 06:50 2017 Wednesday ,15 February

Tragic fluctuations of Bakhtiari's life revealed

GMT 12:22 2017 Monday ,20 February

Kanye West puts hijab-wearing model

GMT 14:06 2017 Friday ,17 February

London to tax old cars

GMT 23:29 2017 Thursday ,16 February

Home built on sand castles-style costs $8m

GMT 05:15 2017 Tuesday ,21 February

Omega 3 can reduce asthma cases

GMT 19:16 2017 Friday ,17 February

Aziz House ready to host the tourists

GMT 13:12 2015 Saturday ,09 May

Sheikh Sultan opens Sharjah Centre

GMT 12:39 2017 Monday ,20 February

newest smartphone another winner for Huawei

GMT 16:08 2017 Wednesday ,15 February

Shawsh reveals her collection "Jewelry of dreams"
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
 
 Arab Today Facebook,arab today facebook  Arab Today Twitter,arab today twitter Arab Today Rss,arab today rss  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube  Arab Today Youtube,arab today youtube
arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday
arabstoday arabstoday arabstoday
arabstoday
بناية النخيل - رأس النبع _ خلف السفارة الفرنسية _بيروت - لبنان
arabstoday, Arabstoday, Arabstoday