As Though She Were Sleeping

by Elias Khoury

Steeped in sanctity but also violence, Meelya leads a double life inhabiting her dreams as fully as her waking life in war-torn Levant, which makes this a complex, chimerical novel. You get feelings of frustration and disenchantment about the political turmoil, although this is balanced by cultural descriptions and frequent poetical quotations. The writing is vivid and powerful as you unpick the ambiguities of this fascinating love story.


Meelya loves the night and runs through its narrow streets. She throws herself onto her bed and opens her eyes, and night traces itself about her eyelids. When the darkness is complete, she closes them and goes to her dreams. In the morning, she doesn’t wipe the dreams from her eyes; she leaves them as circles drawn in invisible ink so she can return to them whenever she wishes. It is enough for her to close her eyes for the voices to be silenced and the lights extinguished. Then she goes to where she sees all and uncovers secrets.
Translated by Humphrey Davies


The Storyteller by Rabih Alameddine
Beirut Blues by Hanan Al-Shaykh

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