“Love is guided neither by date of birth nor religion.”
—Excerpt from Sophia
is another hit in the ever-growing catalog of extraordinary novels by Arab writers. Set in Damascus, the story stretches from the 1920s to the year 2011. Rafik Schami, who spent his childhood and young adulthood in Syria before immigrating to Germany, weaves a multifaceted narrative reflecting his homeland’s vibrant culture while offering a story of love, from the familial kind between the story’s namesake, Sophia, and her son Salman, to the unrequited kind between Sophia and Karim, and eventually to the healing kind between Karim and Aida. Schami shares interlinking tales against the backdrop of turmoil that has shaped Syria’s history in the 20th and 21st centuries, making for a spellbinding read.
runs the gamut for emotions, with enthralling highs and crushing lows. Overall, Monique Arav and John Hannon’s translation preserves Schami’s wit and clever storytelling.