A stunning new glimpse of Middle Eastern life, The Hidden Light of Objects is a debut collection of short stories from Kuwaiti writer Mai Al-Nakib. In ten vibrant and emotionally impactful stories, interspersed with lyrical vignettes, a portrait of life in the Middle East emerges from the graceful rhythm of Mai’s prose. Two young girls find joy in the kindness of an old man during their stay in Japan. A daughter struggles to welcome her mother home after ten years as a POW of the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. The horror of the Sabra and Shatila massacre leads to a violent end to the correspondence between a boy and his Lebanese grandfather. This duality corkscrews through the entire collection: girls scribble in diaries and boys find young love against a background of war and unrest. The intimacy of day-to-day life unfurls alongside moments that can
The headlines tell of terror, turmoil, and religious clashes. But if you look beyond them you will see life in the Middle East as it is really lived: adolescent love, the fragility of marriage, pain of the most quotidian kind. Mai Al-Nakib’s luminous stories unveil the lives of ordinary people, and the power of objects to hold extraordinary memories. This refreshing collection, for fans of Alice Munro and Lorrie Moore, is a beautiful debut from an emerging literary voice.
Mai Al-Nakib is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Kuwait University. Her research addresses a wide range of issues linked to cultural politics in the Middle East—from Arab feminisms to the ethical question of Palestinians in Kuwait. The Hidden Light of Objects won the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s First Book Award in 2014, the first short story collection to win in the history of the award. She is currently writing her first novel.