An Unlasting Home

A Novel

by Mai Al-Nakib

On Sale: 04/12/2022

An Unlasting Home

Enlarge Book Cover

An Unlasting Home

A Novel

by Mai Al-Nakib

On Sale: 04/12/2022


About the Book

The debut novel from an award-winning short story writer: a multigenerational saga spanning Lebanon, Iraq, India, the United States, and Kuwait that brings to life the triumphs and failures of three generations of Arab women.

In 2013, Sara is a philosophy professor at Kuwait University, having returned to Kuwait from Berkeley in the wake of her mother's sudden death eleven years earlier. Her main companions are her grandmother's talking parrot, Bebe Mitu; the family cook, Aasif; and Maria, her childhood ayah and the one person who has always been there for her. Sara's relationship with Kuwait is complicated; it is a country she always thought she would leave, and a country she recognizes less and less, and yet a certain inertia keeps her there. But when teaching Nietzsche in her Intro to Philosophy course leads to an accusation of blasphemy, which carries with it the threat of execution, Sara realizes she must reconcile her feelings and her place in the world once and for all.

Interspersed with Sara's narrative are the stories of her grandmothers: beautiful and stubborn Yasmine, who marries the son of the Pasha of Basra and lives to regret it, and Lulwa, born poor in the old town of Kuwait, swept off her feet to an estate in India by the son of a successful merchant family; and her two mothers: Noura, who dreams of building a life in America and helping to shape its Mid-East policies, and Maria, who leaves her own children behind in Pune to raise Sara and her brother Karim and, in so doing, transforms many lives.

Ranging from the 1920s to the near present, An Unlasting Home traces Kuwait's rise from a pearl-diving backwater to its reign as a thriving cosmopolitan city to the aftermath of the Iraqi invasion. At once intimate and sweeping, personal and political, it is an unforgettable epic and a spellbinding family saga.

Critical Praise

"So fresh and unsettling that it will enchant you from the first page and linger for days after reading. ... Deftly written. ... Its epic family saga style echoes that of Hala Alyan’s Salt Houses and The Arsonists’ City, Ayad Akhtar’s Homeland Elegies, and Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko." — Los Angeles Review of Books

"Grapples profoundly with the limits of individual choice and the hold exerted by a person’s homeland...accomplished and searing." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Mai Al-Nakib lyrically explores themes of homeland, tradition and agency as she relates the stories of generations of Arab women across Kuwait, the US, Iraq, India and Lebanon." — Ms. magazine

“Deeply enchanting, at times suspenseful, and always engaging, An Unlasting Home is filled with tales of women’s lives and their intersection with the often volatile and unpredictable currents of nations, war, and political history. Mai Al-Nakib’s storyteller’s voice is fresh and original—her book grabbed me from the outset and kept me entranced to the last page.”  — Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Fencing with the King and Crescent

An Unlasting Home is an unforgettable story of people making choices for love, family, freedom, and identity against the tidal forces of history in the Arab region. Shimmering with poetic prose, and as pressingly real as the white heat of August in Baghdad, this poignant debut will keep you in its thrall.” — Juhea Kim, author of Beasts of a Little Land

"A spellbinding family history unfolds as a Kuwaiti woman goes on trial for blasphemy in a world gone mad. Deftly written, structurally brilliant, Mai Al-Nakib’s An Unlasting Home is a lasting novel that splits open time, leaps across continents, and creates the sort of characters we carry forward into our hearts and lives. I absolutely loved this book." — A. Manette Ansay

"A sweeping novel that will stick with readers for a long time." — Debutiful

"For lovers of sweeping, multigenerational epics like Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing or Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, this story following three generations of Arab women will strike right at the heart." — Bitch Media

"An ambitious family epic with a historical sweep, an elegy to grandmothers and mothers who were forced from their original homes by personal or political circumstances in the Middle East to build nests elsewhere." — World Literature Today

"Refreshing and eye-opening." — Electric Literature

“Penetrating insight and such compressed lyricism that at times her prose seems to border on poetry. A densely imagined and beautifully written debut.” — Sydney Morning Herald on The Hidden Light of Objects

The Hidden Light of Objects marks the emergence of an author already confident in her craft and her ability to give voice to the emotions and yearnings of her characters.” — New Internationalist

“The old world and the new. The strife in the Gulf, once peaceful and reflective. East and West, Arabic and English, the poetry of the heart, the eye of the hawk; all these elements produce the lustrous pearls of Mai Al-Nakib’s short stories.” — Hanan al-Shaykh, author of Beirut Blues, on The Hidden Light of Objects

The Hidden Light of Objects brings forth both the light and the shadows of the contemporary Middle East in clean-edged prose that startles us, not with sudden violence or polemic, but with the ineluctable force of human desire. Kuwait itself becomes a character, full of contradictions, in this multifaceted set of stories and vignettes. Superb.” — Lucy Ferriss, author of The Lost Daughter


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780063135093
  • ISBN 10: 0063135094
  • Imprint: Mariner Books
  • On Sale: 04/12/2022
  • Pages: 400
  • List Price:34.99 CAD
  • BISAC1 : FICTION / Cultural Heritage
  • BISAC2 : FICTION / Literary
  • BISAC3 : FICTION / Historical
  • BISAC4 : FICTION / Multiple Timelines

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