Tim Murphy, author of the just-published novel Correspondents, about the intertwining fates of an Arab-American and an Iraqi family in the wake of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, will be in conversation with Yasir Dhannoon, an Iraqi-born, New York-based entrepreneur who is on the board of The Syria Fund, a New York-based non-profit dedicated to helping individuals in need amid the chaos of the Syrian Refugee Crisis. The evening will also raise money for the Syria Fund.
Correspondents tells the gripping and moving story of an Irish-Lebanese family in Massachusetts, centering on the eldest daughter Rita, who works as a journalist in Iraq in the tumultuous post-invasion years, and on the bond she develops with her young Baghdadi interpreter. Spanning the breadth of the twentieth century and into the post-9/11 wars and their legacy, Correspondents is a powerful novel that centers on Rita Khoury, an Irish-Lebanese woman whose life and family history mirrors the story of America. Both sides of Rita’s family came to the United States in the golden years of immigration, which we see beautifully rendered in the first part of the novel, and in her home north of Boston Rita grows into a stubborn, perfectionist, and relentlessly bright young woman. She studies Arabic at university and moves to cosmopolitan Beirut to work as a journalist, and is then posted to Iraq after the American invasion in 2003. In Baghdad, she finds for the first time in her life that her safety depends on someone else, her talented interpreter Nabil al-Jumaili, an equally driven young man from a middle-class Baghdad family who is hiding a secret about his sexuality. As Nabil’s identity threatens to put him in jeopardy and Rita’s position becomes more precarious as the war intensifies, their worlds start to unravel, forcing them out of the country and into an uncertain future. Epic in scope, by turns funny and poignant, and moving from New England to the Middle East, Correspondents is a powerful story about the legacy of immigration, the present-day world of refugeehood, the violence that America causes both abroad and at home, and the power of the individual and the family to bring good into a world that is often brutal.
Tim Murphy is the author of Christodora, longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal. He has reported on HIV/AIDS for twenty years, for such publications as POZ Magazine, where he was an editor and staff writer, Out, Advocate, and New York. He was born into an Irish-Lebanese family north of Boston and now lives in Brooklyn and spends as much time as possible in Beirut.
Yasir Dhannoon is a New York-based entrepreneur and product manager with expertise in technology and innovative solutions. He has created numerous apps and digital platforms for global companies, including Harpercollins Publishers, Verizon, General Mills and more. Yasir has a personal connection to The Syria Fund's mission because he lived in Syria for over three years as a refugee from Iraq. Yasir has worked for several years with the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting refugees in life-or-death circumstances.