The Locust and the Bird: My Mother's Story (Paperback)

By Hanan Al-Shaykh, Roger Allen (Translator)
Usually Ships in 1-5 Days

October 2009 Indie Next List

“Hanan Al-Shaykh's account of her mother's life growing up in Lebanon is heart-wrenchingly beautiful. What a strong, wonderful woman.”
— Suzanne Droppert, Liberty Bay Books, Poulsbo, WA


In a masterly act of literary transformation, celebrated novelist Hanan al-Shaykh re-creates the dramatic life and times of her mother, Kamila.
Married at a young age against her will, Kamila soon fell head-over-heels in love with another man--and was thus forced to choose between her children and her lover. As the narrative unfolds through the years--from the bazaars, cinemas and apartments of 1930s Beirut to its war-torn streets decades later--we follow this passionate woman as she survives the tragedies and celebrates the triumphs of a life lived to the very fullest.

About the Author

Hanan al-Shaykhis widely regarded as one of the foremost experts on Arab womanhood. Her works include Women of Sand and Myrrh, The Story of Zahra, Beirut Blues and The Locust and the Bird. Tim Supple is one of the world's leading theatre directors and creators. His widely-acclaimed works include Twelfth Night (Channel 4 film), Tales from Ovid, A Servant to Two Masters(both RSC) anda multi-lingual A Midsummer Night's Dream (Dash Arts/world tour).

Roger Allen is professor of Arabic language and literature at the University of Pennsylvania. Among his translations are Naguib Mahfouz's Mirrors (AUC Press, 1999) and Bensalem Himmich's The Polymath (AUC Press, 2000).

Praise For…

“A tale of female independence. . . . Deeply reflective and moving.”
San Francisco Chronicle

The Locust and the Bird conquers the distance between mother and daughter, revealing the tragedies that can ensue when cultural machismo forces brave women into impossible choices.”
—Jayne Anne Phillips, More
“A vital [work] about the lives of Arabic families. . . . [It] has a warmth that crosses cultures and feels like a pure, shining blast of sun. . . . Al-Shaykh’s fictionalized account of her mother’s life burns with truth. . . . Forgiveness—not anger—saturates this book like a perfume; every character is desperately, vulnerably human. Al-Shaykh’s triumph is that she retrieves her mother’s wisdom—a wondrous lesson for grown daughters everywhere.”
Los Angeles Times
“[A] poignant family history. . . . Through telling her mother’s story, [Al-Shaykh] learns to appreciate the sacrifices demanded of so many Arab women in their bid for freedom.”
The New Yorker

“It is an extraordinarily brave act for a writer to undertake to inhabit, fully and sympathetically, the life her mother lived.”
—J.M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize-winning author of Disgrace
“What a Woman!!! What a storyteller!!! . . . I felt extremely lucky to spend time with someone so intelligent, full of humor and love.”
—Marjane Satrapi, author of Persepolis
“A richly tragic and rivetingly original tale. . . . Al-Shaykh's suspenseful, intimate biography throbs with the sense of wonder an Old World survivor experiences when colliding with the new. This voluptuous, deft dissection of a love that transcends borders, class and generations is a delight.”
Newark Star-Ledger
“Courageously addresses both the themes of geographical separation and the jagged motifs of mother-daughter conflict. . . . I have never read a memoir which so clearly demonstrates art’s power to help us survive.”
The Independent (London)
“Al-Shaykh is one of the most courageous writers of the Arab world. The story of her irrepressible mother, might help explain the origins of Hanan Al-Shaykh’s singular ability to trailblaze.”
—Rabih Alameddine, author of The Hakawati
“Extraordinary. . . . Hanan adeptly and generously captures the thoughts and concerns of a young woman growing up, the hard way, in Lebanon half a century ago.”
Time Out (London)
“Frank and uncompromising. . . . Kamila’s trials are the trials of all women who have sought to be free; her choices some of the toughest yet made in the name of independence.”
The Times (London)
“A riveting, deeply compelling character study that combines real dramatic tension with historical and political relevance. Charming, egotistical, funny, vain, spell-binding, al-Shaykh’s mother defies religion, family, and tradition to create a life on her own terms. A fabulously addictive read.”
—Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Crescent
“A powerful book on the dangers of romantic love in mid-20th century Arab society.”
The Guardian (London)
“Astonishing. . . . Spectacular. . . . [The Locust and the Bird] is Hanan al-Shaykh’s masterpiece. Kamila is Hanan’s most extraordinary character.”
—Charles R. Larson, The Jakarta Post
“An adventure tale, a confession, a tragic romance. . . . The book is that rarity—a memoir told in the round but through one set of eyes, so that we understand, increasingly, everyone’s motives, their saving graces, while ever more deeply seeing the flawed yet magical world through the sensibility of its subject.”
The Scotsman

Product Details
ISBN: 9780307472311
ISBN-10: 0307472310
Publisher: Anchor Books
Publication Date: April 6th, 2010
Pages: 302
Language: English