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Mother of Strangers

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Mother of Strangers by Suad Amiry
Paperback $18.00
Aug 01, 2023 | ISBN 9780593466940

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“A captivating novel about love amid warfare . . . a story as sobering as it is entertaining.”
—The Hudson Review

“Toward the beginning of this novel, Subhi – “the best mechanic in town,” despite being only 15 – is called to fix the well of a local citrus magnate. When he arrives at the grove, he is taken aback by how different the city of Jaffa looks from way up high; how seeing it from this vantage point must affect one’s hopes, fears, politics and loyalties. That sense of perspective-shifting carries throughout the book. The characters force readers to think about how our desires change when our settings do and how expansive (or limited) our sense of reality might be.”
—“Books We Love 2022,” NPR

“[A] moving story. . . . Mother of Strangers describes the price paid in human lives when exclusivist states are created violently.” Middle East Books Review

“[Mother of Strangers] invites readers to consider the human cost of the ongoing, tragic conflict in the Middle East. As always, the past is not past.”
Washington Independent Review of Books

“Based on a true story, Mother of Strangers is a fable-like historical novel of young love . . . Darkly humorous and touching . . . We’re shown this entire messy, glorious universe that existed before war rained down.”
Oprah Daily

“A powerful story of love, loss, and the destruction of a nation.”
Booklist, starred review

“Stirring . . . achingly alive . . . Amiry’s eye-opening story will keep readers turning the pages.”
Publishers Weekly

“I was bedazzled by Mother of Strangers. How extraordinarily brave to weave a story about the destruction of one’s city, the displacement of family—separating lovers young and old—and the beginning of the end of Palestine. I loved that Suad Amiry based her novel on a true story. I loved the humor as I clutched my heart.”
—Hanan al Shaykh, author of Beirut Blues
Mother Of Strangers is a passionate and a deeply moving story of the price Palestinians paid for the creation of Israel.”
—Michael Palin, author, actor, and member of Monty Python

Table Of Contents

Part I
1 The Best Mechanic in Town (Jaffa, June 1947) 3
2 The Promised English Suit 12
3 Jaffa’s Orange Groves (Bayyarat Yafa) 19
4 To Have or Not to Have the Promised Suit 25
5 Sugar Daddy 35
6 Three Green Notes and One Red (July 1947) 39
7 The Grand Suit Tour 47
8 English Pride 54
9 A Suit Etched on Paper 61
10 From the Fools’ Café to the Intellectuals’ Café and that of the Fishermen 67
11 Café il Inshirah: The Intellectuals’ Café 71
12 From Boyhood to Manhood 77
13 At the Brothel 83
14 Mawsim il Nabi Rubin (August– September 1947) 87
15 A Temporary Tent City 91
16 The Kisweh Celebrations from Jaffa to il Nabi Rubin 95
17 The Kite Maker 100
18 The Love of My Life 107

Part II
Back to Jaffa
19 Post- Vacation Blues (Jaffa, September 1947) 117
20 Death Oranges (Sunday, January 4, 1948) 123
21 A Train Robbery (end of March 1948) 128
22 Jerusalem’s Macabre Parade (April 8, 1948) 132

Part III
New Masters
23 The Day After (Jaffa, May 1948) 143
24 New Masters 149
25 The “Disputed” Suit Interrogations 157
26 At Jaffa’s Port 163
27 Disputed 167
28 Back to Being the Best Mechanic in No- Town 174

Part IV
29 A Surrogate Mother (il Lyd, May 1948) 183
30 A “Jewish” Cow (One Month Earlier, il Lyd, July 1948) 192
31 The Cow Interrogation: Big Crimes, Small Crimes 198
32 Someone at the Door 204
33 A Muslim Mother 214
34 An Escape Plan 221
35 Subhi: In Search of a Past, in Search of a Future 229
36 A Few Knocks at the Gate (Jaffa, 1950) 235
37 New Neighbors (Jaffa, 1951) 241
38 A Friendly Request 255
Epilogue (Jaffa, January 2018) 265

Author’s Note 269
Acknowledgments 273
Arabic to English Glossary 275

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