Before the Queen Falls Asleep

Huzama Habayeb


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MacLehose Press
28 March 2024
ISBN: 9781529415650
288 pages

From the publisher

Translated by Kay Heikkinen

A daring and captivating novel about a Palestinian family, told with love, wisdom and black humour

*As featured as an editor's pick on Radio Four's OPEN BOOK*

*One of the Guardian's books to look out for in 2024*

"A brilliant novel of the Palestinian diaspora. Funny and gritty, and bursting with life and humour" Ahdaf Soueif, Guardian

Born a girl to parents who expected a boy, Jihad grows up treated like the eldest son, wearing boy's clothing and sharing the financial burden of head of the household with her father.

Now middle-aged, each night Jihad tells her daughter a story from her life. As Maleka prepares to leave home to attend university abroad, her mother revisits the past of their Palestinian family, tenderly describing their life in exile in Kuwait and her own experiences of love and loss as she grows up.

Huzama Habayeb weaves a richly observed and affectionate portrait of a Palestinian family displaced from their homeland, exploring with humour and poise the love and betrayal that pursues Jihad and her family from Kuwait to Jordan to Dubai. This is a novel whose words will resound long after you finish the final page.