As Though She Were Sleeping by Elias Khoury

As Though She Were Sleeping

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.

  • The Storyteller by Rabih Alameddine
  • A Girl Made of Dust by Nathalie Abi-Ezzi
  • Beirut Blues by Hanan Al-Shaykh

Books with similar mood

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

Ocean Vuong

Black Juice

Margo Lanagan


Lauren Groff

The Fall of the Stone City

Ismail Kadare

The Reverse Side of Life

Lee Seung-U

Woman of the Ashes

Mia Couto


Nicholas Royle

White is for Witching

Helen Oyeyemi


Andrey Platonov

The Carpenter's Pencil

Manuel Rivas

Sunset Oasis

Bahaa Taher


Will Eaves

The Last Children of Tokyo

Yoko Tawada

The House of Shattered Wings

Aliette de Bodard

I'm OK, I'm Pig

Kim Hyesoon

Where I Left My Soul

Jerome Ferrari


Sarah Jackson

The Story of You

Julie Myerson

A Few Short Notes on Tropical Butterflies

John Murray


W G Sebald


Joyce Oates


Kitty Fitzgerald

Exit West

Mohsin Hamid

Nowhere People

Paulo Scott

From the Mouth of the Whale

Sjon -

The Art of Being Dead

Stephen Clayton

The Story of Blanche and Marie

Per Olov Enquist

The Alchemy of Desire

Tarun Tejpal

The Seducer

Jan Kjaerstad

Stories of Your Life and Others

Ted Chiang

The Shell Collector

Anthony Doerr

Wanderers and Islanders

Steve Cockayne

Notes for a War Story

Gipi &nbsp

Traveller of the Century

Andres Neuman

By Night in Chile

Roberto Bolano

My Name is Red

Orhan Pamuk

The Birth of Venus

Sarah Dunant

Sharks in the Time of Saviours

Kawai Strong Washburn

The Man Who Saw Everything

Deborah Levy

In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman

Thus Bad Begins

Javier Marías

The Man With the Compound Eyes

Wu Ming-Yi

South of Centre

Andrea Carter

The First Verse

Barry McCrea

Under the Frangipani

Mia Couto

Hotel World

Ali Smith

Tail of the Blue Bird

Nii Ayikwei Parkes


Akwaeke Emezi

Long Black Veil

Jennifer Finney Boylan