Books · Read in 2022 · Reviews

Book Thoughts: My Damascus (Suad Amiry)

A very ‘me’ kind of book

★★★★★★☆

Title: My Damascus
Author: Suad Amiry
Genre: Non-Fiction/Fiction hybrid 🤣
First published: 2021
Edition: Paperback, published in 2021 by Olive Branch Press

Through a web of interwoven personal stories and an intricate mix of simple, complicated or sometimes devious characters, Amiry travels across space and time, spanning three generations of family history. The Baroudi women animate the story and sparkle like no others: Teta, Amiry’s grandmother, rendered mute after her husband’s great betrayal; her cousin, Norma, torn between love for her adoptive mother and longing for a real mother she will never know; Fatima and Ghalia, Karimeh and Laila, maids and aunts, in a kaleidoscope of vignettes.

***

I am not sure how I came across this book, but its premise of a family history that floats somewhere between fiction and non-fiction was intriguing to me. Also, the setting of the ages-old city of Damascus was calling to me.

I would call this primarily non-fiction. The author is relating her family’s past through the eyes of various members of her family. We see how her grandmother and mother are married off and how they build their lives. This is the kind of book that takes your great-aunt’s family gossip and turns it into a story. The stories here were intriguing enough that I kind of loved that about it.

Damascus is a wonderful backdrop and the author’s background as an architect definitely brought the surroundings to life for me. Sure, some of the stories are fictionalized and sensationalised I am sure, but it just worked for me. The author makes it clear that she is not spilling all the family’s beans out of respect for the still living family members, but to be honest, there was plenty enough to enjoy.

This book did not read like fiction, neither was it quite non-fiction and if you prefer your books to be one or the other, this may not be for you. If you don’t like the idea of a book that feel a little like family gossip turned into a story, this may not be for you. However, if you enjoy family sagas and family secrets and relations, you will love this.

This was my kind of read.

6 out of 7 stars

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