Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands
By Sonia Nimr$ 15
WINNER OF THE PRESTIGIOUS ETISALAT AWARD
“Palestinian author Nimr spins an elegant fable of literacy, romance, and derring-do… Nimr’s story is both fabulous and utterly matter-of-fact, and, notably, at every turn women are the leaders and the shapers of their worlds. The writing is lovely… Small in size but epic in scope: a delightful, profoundly meaningful adventure.” — Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
About this book
Award-winning tales of a young woman's travel adventures across perilous deserts, seas and empires
In a tent at the foot of a mountain in Palestine, hundreds of years ago, our storyteller and her twin sister are born. Her newlywed parents name her Qamr (Moon), and her sister Shams (Sun). Their small caravan is journeying from the mother’s city back to the father’s remote ancestral village atop the mountain.
This village suffers from isolation—and a curse, which her young family tries to undo. But when both parents’ lives are cut short, Qamr and her sister are left orphans. And so, Qamr decides to pursue her mother’s and father’s dreams of discovering the world—its people, places and stories. With the red book in hand that brought her parents together, she sets out on a daring journey, on caravans and ships, across empires.
Telling tales to survive, Qamr crosses deserts and seas: to Jerusalem and Gaza; Egypt, Tangier, Andalusia and Genoa; Abyssinia, India, the Maldives and Yemen. Kidnapped by bandits, sold as a slave to the House of a mad King, studying with a polymath, disguising as a man and falling in love for the first time—with a pirate: Qamr searches irrepressibly for life, in endless stories within stories.
Sonia Nimr’s richly imagined historical fable recalls the famous travel narratives of the 14th century Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta. But the captivating adventures of our heroine are the wondrous journeys we take when we discover we can do more than we ever dreamed possible, even in strange lands that decree we cannot.Brand: Sonia Nimr
“Palestinian author Nimr spins an elegant fable of literacy, romance, and derring-do … Nimr’s story is both fabulous and utterly matter-of-fact, and, notably, at every turn women are the leaders and the shapers of their worlds. The writing is lovely … Small in size but epic in scope: a delightful, profoundly meaningful adventure.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
“This spellbinding work from Nimr (A Little Piece of Ground) follows the adventures of Qamar, a young Palestinian woman. After Qamar is born in an unnamed, premodern village where only male children have been born for 50 years, her family is shunned. Despite this, she is raised in a loving home, and she becomes a voracious reader with an unquenchable desire for exploration. When Qamar is 15, her parents die, leaving her to set off on the first of many adventures. Qamar walks to Jerusalem and joins a caravan traveling to Egypt, where she is caught and sold as a slave. She eventually becomes the slave of, and then trusted adviser to, Princess Noor al-Huda. But when Noor is targeted in an assassination plot, Qamar escapes to Tangier. There, she learns from a renowned scholar, falls in love with a pirate captain, and disguises herself as a man in order to sail with him and his marauding crew. Qamar’s myriad journeys, while often outlandish, are moving and maintain the energy of the epic tales she read as a child. Nimr’s rip-roaring feminist folktale combines legend and history to great effect.” —Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Marcia Lynx Qualey is a writer and editor who founded ArabLit and ArabLit Quarterly. She co-hosts the BULAQ podcast and has co-translated the co-written Ghady & Rawan (2019).