A Sky So Close to Us

Publishing House: Interlink Books

Publication Year: 2018

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 204

 “A Sky So Close to Us,” a novel by Shahla Ujayli, weaves a poignant narrative that explores the themes of love, loss, exile, and rebirth. Shortlisted for the 2016 International Prize for Arabic Fiction . This multigenerational saga begins with the idyllic childhood of Joumane and her sisters in Raqqa, Syria . Where they sleep on the rooftop of their ancestral home, feeling the sky so close it seems tangible. The story then transitions to Joumane’s life as an expatriate in Jordan, contrasting sharply with the plight of her sisters who are ensnared in the throes of war-torn Syria.

Joumane’s solitude in Jordan is compounded by her personal battle with cancer. As she grapples with her illness, she finds solace in the sky that once seemed so near . A constant reminder of the unchanging natural world amidst the harsh realities of national borders and separation from loved ones. Her journey of resilience and survival is interwoven with the companionship of Nasser, a Palestinian exile. Their relationship, deepened by shared histories and ancestral connections . Becomes a source of comfort and support for Joumane . Particularly as she endures the trials of chemotherapy.

The novel’s narrative extends beyond Joumane’s personal struggle, offering a panoramic view of history that spans from the 19th century in cities like Aleppo, Raqqa, and Damascus, to the events of Palestine surrounding the 1948 Nakba, and further to the contexts of Iraq, the United States, Serbia, and Vietnam. This sweeping historical backdrop serves to connect the characters through their ancestral stories . Highlighting the enduring impact of trauma and identity across generations.

Ujayli’s meticulous attention to detail and her evocative prose craft a narrative that resurrects forgotten worlds, simultaneously portraying the devastating effects of war and the indomitable spirit of people to create beauty in the midst of destruction. The novel skillfully intertwines these elements . Drawing readers into a story that spans continents and eras . Ultimately reminding us of the interconnectedness of human experiences and the resilience inherent in the face of adversity. “A Sky So Close to Us” is not just a story of individual struggle but a testament to the collective human experience, woven through the intricate tapestry of history, culture, and personal resilience.

 

Read More About Shahla Ujayli

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