Review: A Thousand Farewells — Nahlah Ayed

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To Go: 1

Book List:
91. The Sailor on the Seas of Fate — Michael Moorcock
92. The Weird of the White Wolf — Michael Moorcock
93. The Vanishing Tower — Michael Moorcock
94. The Bane of the Black Sword — Michael Moorcock
95. Stormbringer — Michael Moorcock
96. Nine Dragons — Michael Connelly
97. The Last Crossing — Guy Vanderhaeghe
98. The Night Circus — Erin Morgenstern
99. A Thousand Farewells — Nahlah Ayed

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In 1976, Nahlah Ayed’s family gave up their comfortable life in Winnipeg for the squalor of a Palestinian refugee camp in Amman, Jordan. The transition was jarring, but it was from this uncomfortable situation that Ayed first observed the people whose heritage she shared. The family returned to Canada when she was thirteen, and the Middle East receded for many years. But the First Gulf War and the events of 9/11 reignited her interest. Soon she was reporting from the region full time, chronicling the wars and upheavals that have affected its people and sent so many of them seeking a better life elsewhere.

A Thousand Farewells was another one of my Flare books that I put off since they hadn’t yet been released, and by the end of 2012 it was the only one I hadn’t read. I got off to a late start yesterday, and ended up reading until the wee hours of this morning — which seemed surprising to me, because the book is objectively shorter than others (just over 300 pages).

The reason, I think, that reading A Thousand Farewells took so long is because it is a challenging read — especially for someone like myself, who isn’t completely familiar with the history, wars, politics, and struggles of the Middle East. It was also an incredibly worthwhile read. Ayed weaved her family history and personal experiences into a sensitive portrayal of life in one of the least-understood regions in the world. It reminded me a little of Kamal Al-Solaylee’s memoir, Intolerable.

Next book: Everyman — Philip Roth. THE FINAL BOOK (which, spoilers, I just finished a half hour ago).

– Kelsey

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