by Samar Yazbek

Enter the claustrophobic world of two women of Damascus: Hanan and Aliyah. One is a rich married woman, the other a poor servant but who holds the balance of power? Violent men and arranged marriages are just part of life; women take what comfort they can in intense clandestine relationships with each other. A subtle, fascinating and thought-provoking read.


Pliant like dough, Aliyah would give in to the mistress, letting her do as she pleased. In the beginning she had feared her gentle caresses - the source of nightmares that stole her sleep - but day by day, as she grew older in the villa, the mistress's touch became the subject of daydreams; she began to wait for it in anticipation. Aliyah knew now of the precious treasure concealed within her own body, which she could grant her mistress when she felt like it and withhold from her when she was in a bad mood. Yet this was only at night. In the daytime, Aliyah avoided the mistress, keeping a distance as if the woman were poisonous.
Night and day were two quite separate worlds.
Translated by Emily Danby



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