On the racks – June 2020


A woman is no man
Author        : Etaf Rumō
Publisher   : Harper Perennial
Pages           : 368; 322

Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year- old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over a week, the naive and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children — four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear.

Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra’s oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda’s insistence, although she desires to go to college. Her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man.

But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family — knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her future.

In her debut novel, Etaf Rum tells the story of three generations of
Palestinian-American women struggling to express their desires within the confines of their Arab culture in the wake of shocking intimate violence in their community. This is a story of culture, secrets and betrayals, love, and violence. It gives us an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect.



The Glass Hotel
Author         : Emily St John Mandel
Publisher    : Knopf Publishing Group
Pages           : 302; 353

Jonathan Alkaitis owns the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass palace on a British Columbia island. Smooth talker and immoral Alkaitis gives his card with a handsome tip to Vincent, the bartender at the hotel. She looks at the money as a way of transforming her life. Angry at her choice her half-brother, Paul, scrawls a note on the glass wall of the hotel: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” A guest at the hotel Leon Prevant, who is a shipping executive for a company Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and runs scared. Putting together the lives of these characters the story revolves around a ponzi scheme, a young woman who goes missing from a ship and the disastrous fall of Alkaitis, living between the timeline 1990 and 2029.

From a remote island hotel to a container ship and the skyscrapers of Manhattan, this book paints a breathtaking picture of money, beauty, white-collar crime, ghosts and moral compromise.



When all is said
Author        : Anne Griffin
Publisher   : Thomas Dunne Books
Pages           : 336; 922

At the bar of a grand hotel in a small Irish town sits 84-year-old Maurice Hannigan alone and ready to tell his story. Over the course of the evening, he will raise five toasts to the five people who have meant the most to him. Through these stories — of unspoken joy and regret, a secret tragedy kept hidden, a fierce love that never found its voice — the life of one man will be powerful and poignantly laid bare.

Heartwarming and powerful, the voice of Maurice Hannigan will stay with you. He will leave you with these questions — If you had to pick five people to sum-up your life, who would they be? If you were to raise a glass to each of them, what would you say? And what would you learn about yourself, when all is said?


Compiled by Kiran Zehra

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