Against the Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa

Against the Loveless World: A Novel Book Cover Against the Loveless World: A Novel
Susan Abulhawa
Political Fiction, Literary Fiction, Cultural Heritage Fiction
Atria Books
August 25, 2020
Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook, Kindle

From the internationally bestselling author of the “terrifically affecting” (The Philadelphia InquirerMornings in Jenin, a sweeping and lyrical novel that follows a young Palestinian refugee as she slowly becomes radicalized while searching for a better life for her family throughout the Middle East, for readers of international literary bestsellers including Washington BlackMy Sister, The Serial Killer, and Her Body and Other Parties.

As Nahr sits, locked away in solitary confinement, she spends her days reflecting on the dramatic events that landed her in prison in a country she barely knows. Born in Kuwait in the 70s to Palestinian refugees, she dreamed of falling in love with the perfect man, raising children, and possibly opening her own beauty salon. Instead, the man she thinks she loves jilts her after a brief marriage, her family teeters on the brink of poverty, she’s forced to prostitute herself, and the US invasion of Iraq makes her a refugee, as her parents had been. After trekking through another temporary home in Jordan, she lands in Palestine, where she finally makes a home, falls in love, and her destiny unfolds under Israeli occupation. Nahr’s subversive humor and moral ambiguity will resonate with fans of My Sister, The Serial Killer, and her dark, contemporary struggle places her as the perfect sister to Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties.

Written with Susan Abulhawa’s distinctive “richly detailed, beautiful, and resonant” (Publishers Weekly) prose, this powerful novel presents a searing, darkly funny, and wholly unique portrait of a Palestinian woman who refuses to be a victim.

Susan Abulhawa’s Against the Loveless World is a story of survival and strength

Before we talk about Against the Loveless World, I want to tell you that I rarely read historical fiction books anymore. Even though I have a history degree and fascination with the genre runs in the family, those fictional stories that take place during very real, often horrific, historical events feel too heavy for me lately. Now, I like for my books to take me to simpler places in my imagination and enthrall me with adventures, love stories, and, dare I say, happy endings. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy a good piece of literature (and love rereading my favorites), but I do so in smaller doses.

However, I bumped into Against The Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa, and I couldn’t resist. The tragic beauty of the title and the kaleidoscope-like cover full of colors screamed: “read me!” My curiosity piqued when I saw that Abulhawa’s previous books Mornings in Jenin and The Blue Between Sky and Water both received rave reviews.

Embark on Nahr’s journey, ending in finding love in a loveless world

In Against the Loveless World, Nahr, a Palestinian woman, struggles to recount her life and the events that landed her isolated in a sophisticated Israeli jail cell. Her tragic story spans decades. It starts with her experience growing up as part of a displaced Palestinian family in Kuwait; Nahr describes the discrimination and scarcity her family experienced.

She also tells us about her marriage to a Palestinian hero and his abandonment. As a consequence, how she fell into prostitution and the evolution of her relationship with men. She also offers her perspective on the Iraqui occupation of Kuwait and subsequent American invasion of Iraq, which forced her to flee her home and become a refugee in Jordan. And finally, she talks about her return to Palestine, and how she became a soldier of the resistance against Israel.

Abulhawa’s prose is powerful, descriptive and rich

Nahr is a beautifully complex character with deep scars that the world won’t allow her to heal. I was incredibly moved reading about her perspective as a refugee and her journey to radicalization. Through Nahr, Abulhawa narrates a painful but beautiful story of plight, survival, and finally, love.

The book is not a light read, but Nahr is a great narrator. She’s passionate, funny, and witty. Her story is also full of colorful characters we learn to love along the way. (I need to warn you that this book narrates scenes of sexual assault as well as other forms of violence.)

Please don’t plan to read this book in one sitting; it best shines when you take your time.

Against The Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa publishes August 25, 2020.

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