A 2019 Barnes & Noble Discover Selection An April IndieNext Selection
A masterful debut novel by Plimpton Prize winner Isabella Hammad، The Parisian illuminates a pivotal period of Palestinian history through the journey and romances of one young man، from his studies in France during World War I to his return to Palestine at the dawn of its battle for independence.
Midhat Kamal is the son of a wealthy textile merchant from Nablus، a town in Ottoman Palestine. A dreamer، a romantic، an aesthete، in 1914 he leaves to study medicine in France، and falls in love. When Midhat returns to Nablus to find it under British rule، and the entire region erupting with nationalist fervor، he must find a way to cope with his conflicting loyalties and the expectations of his community. The story of Midhat’s life develops alongside the idea of a nation، as he and those close to him confront what it means to strive for independence in a world that seems on the verge of falling apart.
Against a landscape of political change that continues to define the Middle East، The Parisian explores questions of power and identity، enduring love، and the uncanny ability of the past to disrupt the present. Lush and immersive، and devastating in its power، The Parisian is an elegant، richly-imagined debut from a dazzling new voice in fiction.
Hardcover: 576 pages Author: Isabella Hammad Publisher: Grove Press (April 9، 2019) Language: English Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
About the Author Isabella Hammad was born in London. She won the 2018 Plimpton Prize for Fiction for her story “Mr. Can’aan.” Her writing has appeared in Conjunctions and the Paris Review. The Parisian is her first novel.
Editorial Reviews Amazon.com Review An Amazon Best Book of April 2019: You could label The Parisian as historical fiction، but it seems silly to limit it that way. This is just a great novel، and Isabella Hammad is an ambitions، sensitive، and abundantly talented writer. The Parisian is the story of Midhat Kamal. We first meet him in 1914 Marseilles، while he is on his way to Montpelier to attend medical school. He is also about to fall in love for the first time. Within a year، he is studying in Paris، absorbing the culture; but as a Palestinian living in France، he is always an outsider. Eventually، Midhat returns to his hometown of Nablus، where his father، a wealthy textile merchant، rules his days، and where Britain now rules the land. Midhat must answer to his father’s expectations at the same time that he is trying to make his way in a changing Palestine—and still there are tendrils that reach back to France. The Parisian is، almost unbelievably، a debut novel—a moving personal story set against a sweeping historical backdrop—and Isabella Hammad is an exciting new voice in literature. --Chris Schluep، Amazon Book Review
“Reminiscent of Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient and Sebastian Faulks’s Birdsong، 27-year-old Isabella Hammad’s epic debut novel surpasses both in its scope.”―New York
“Stunning…a lush rendering of Palestinian life a century ago under the British mandate and a sumptuous epic about the enduring nature of love.”―Vogue
“In her exceptional debut، Hammad taps into the satisfying slow-burn style of classic literature with a storyline that captures both the heart and the mind….Richly textured prose drives the novel’s spellbinding themes of the ebb and flow of cultural connections and people who struggle with love، familial responsibilities، and personal identity. This is an immensely rewarding novel that readers will sink into and savor.”―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A hugely accomplished historical sweep of a book… a novel of immense skill and confidence.”―Guardian
“The Parisian is a gripping historical novel، a poignant romance، and a revelatory family epoch. Above all، it is a generous gift. There is a kind of joy that can hold not only pleasure، but struggle، and even sadness. This novel tells that kind of joyful story، and evokes that kind of joy in the reader.”―Jonathan Safran Foer
“The Parisian is a sublime reading experience: delicate، restrained، surpassingly intelligent، uncommonly poised and truly beautiful. It is realism in the tradition of Flaubert and Stendhal – everything that happens feels not so much imagined as ordained. That this remarkable historical epic should be the debut of a writer in her mid-twenties seems impossible، yet it's true. Isabella Hammad is an enormous talent and her book is a wonder.”―Zadie Smith
“The Parisian is extraordinary―wise، ambitious، and lavishly rewarding. With luminous prose and rare compassion، Isabella Hammad offers her readers an absorbing story of war and identity، of love and independence، of hope and history. It’s an astonishing novel، heralding the arrival of a major talent.”―Bret Anthony Johnston
“The Parisian is a lushly imagined، beautifully written، expansive powerhouse of a debut. Isabella Hammad is a great new voice.”―Nathan Englander
"An exquisite، intricate and wise novel. I was utterly gripped from the first page until the last. This sweeping، historical epic marks the arrival of a wonderfully gifted author. Isabella Hammad is a marvel and The Parisian is an unforgettable read."―Irenosen Okojie
“With masterful lyricism and unflinching insight، The Parisian captures the personal passion and political violence of a nascent nation’s struggle for independence. Hammad has written a profound and intoxicating epic، brimming with unexpected، vivid imagery and unforgettable characters. Hers is a fresh voice of the first order.”―Bradford Morrow
“A model of what the short story can do…[A] most ingenious and openhearted work.”―David Gates on Isabella Hammad’s “Mr. Can’aan،” winner of the 2018 Plimpton Prize