I'll admit, I'm a bit of a sucker for sprawling historical novels (although this only spans about twenty years), but I'm not exaggerating in saying that it's one of the best I've ever read. Whether you're a sucker for historical fiction like me, or are a lover of decadent, thoughtful prose and characters, whatever the topic may be. But the topic is yet another point in favor of this wonderful book: it's about Palestine and its people during the British mandate era, and this Palestinian perspective on history is sorely underrepresented in English. Hammad is a ridiculously talented writer, and this is definitely a debut not to be missed.
— Jacob R
A masterful debut novel by Plimpton Prize winner Isabella Hammad, The Parisian
illuminates a pivotal period of Palestinian history through the journey and romances of one young man, from his studies in France during World War I to his return to Palestine at the dawn of its battle for independence.
Midhat Kamal is the son of a wealthy textile merchant from Nablus, a town in Ottoman Palestine. A dreamer, a romantic, an aesthete, in 1914 he leaves to study medicine in France, and falls in love. When Midhat returns to Nablus to find it under British rule, and the entire region erupting with nationalist fervor, he must find a way to cope with his conflicting loyalties and the expectations of his community. The story of Midhat's life develops alongside the idea of a nation, as he and those close to him confront what it means to strive for independence in a world that seems on the verge of falling apart.
Against a landscape of political change that continues to define the Middle East, The Parisian
explores questions of power and identity, enduring love, and the uncanny ability of the past to disrupt the present. Lush and immersive, and devastating in its power, The Parisian
is an elegant, richly-imagined debut from a dazzling new voice in fiction.