Bahbel: Makkah Multiverse 1945-2009

Bahbel: Makkah Multiverse 1945 2009-Cover

Author: Raja Alem

Publishing House: Al-Tanweer

Publication Year: 2023

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 336

Raja Alem‘s ‘Bahbel: Makkah Multiverse 1945-2009,’ a work that has earned a place in the 2024 Longlist for the prestigious Arabic Booker Prize, offers a deep and intricate narrative set in the historic city of Makkah. This novel, published by Dar Tanweer, follows the life of Abbas, also known as Bahbel, born into the Al-Sardar family, a lineage steeped in tradition and nobility.

The Al-Sardar family, emblematic of the ancient and respected households of Makkah, becomes the focal point of Alem’s narrative. The story begins with an enigmatic event: the birth of Abbas as one half of a twin, with the midwife cryptically declaring that the other twin has ‘disappeared.’ Growing up under the strict patriarchal control of his father, Abbas forms a close bond with the women in his family, a connection that inspires him to document their lives.

Alem’s novel is not just a family saga but a vivid chronicle of Makkah from 1945 to 2009, a period marked by significant transformations. Through Abbas’s eyes, readers are immersed in the lives of the women of Makkah, their struggles, joys, and the silent revolutions they experience in a city deeply influenced by its sacred shrines and religious significance.

The narrative gracefully weaves through the decades, revealing the intricate tapestry of Makkah’s social fabric and the profound changes that shape the lives of its residents. The novel captures the essence of a city in transition, reflecting the shifts in cultural, social, and religious dynamics.

Raja Alem, previously honored with the Arabic Booker Prize in 2011 for her novel ‘The Dove’s Necklace,’ once again demonstrates her exceptional storytelling prowess. ‘Bahbel: Makkah Multiverse 1945-2009’ is not merely a tale of a family but a rich, multi-layered exploration of a city and its people during a pivotal era in history. It stands as a testament to Alem’s ability to intertwine personal narratives with broader historical and cultural contexts, offering readers an insightful and evocative journey through time and place.”

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