May — the Nights of Isis Copia


Publishing House: Dar Al Adab

Publication Year: 2017

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 356

The novel “May — the Nights of Isis Copia” by Algerian author Waciny Laredj was published by Dar Al-Adab. It was longlisted for the 2019 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, commonly known as the “Arabic Booker Prize,”.

In his novel“May — the Nights of Isis Copia” Algerian writer Waciny Laredj narrates a story centered on the life of the Lebanese author May Ziadeh. The narrative explores her descent into depression, leading her to withdraw into isolation, influenced by the deaths of her loved ones, her significant cultural efforts advocating for women’s rights, and the challenges she faced as a Christian and a Lebanese. Additionally, the novel details her ordeal with her cousin Joseph, who, driven by greed for her wealth, committed her to a mental hospital, commonly known as Al-Asfouria.

Through the novel “May — the Nights of Isis Copia”May Ziadeh, the person, comes remarkably close to the reader. We hear her sobs at the height of her isolation in the mental hospital, Al-Asfouria, where she was unjustly committed with the intent of seizing her property and financial inheritance. We listen to her breath as it quietly fades away before her final departure from a world that her family and friends had turned into a living hell.

The novel goes even further in its artistic analysis of the serious issues of the era, revealing that May’s generation chose modernity but refused to pay its price. Figures like Lutfi Al-Sayyid, Taha Hussein, Al-Rafe’ie, Al-Aqqad, Gibran, Shawqi, Matran, and Al-Rihani, among others, intellectually shaped society from the 1920s to the 1950s. However, they left it suspended within an impossible modernity, shaped by religious frameworks and conservative thought.

The novel“May — the Nights of Isis Copia” tells the story of a writer who was a prominent figure during one of the most significant cultural periods. May Ziadeh, through her writings and intellectual contributions, made a lasting impact on the literary world at the beginning of the twentieth century. The novel includes the manuscript “The Nights of Al-Asfouria,” which chronicles her time confined in a mental hospital in Lebanon. It reveals the tragedy of May after her cousin lured her to Lebanon and accused her of insanity to seize her money and property.

She fell into a deep depression and profound sadness due to the loss of her loved ones, starting with the death of her father, followed by Gibran Khalil Gibran, and then her mother. She was forcibly taken to Al-Asfouria, the mental hospital. Initially, she found little support and assistance from those around her. Where were those who loved her? Or did they only love the image of the unconventional Eastern woman she represented, different from the norms of that time?

While recounting the days of suffering and pain, the author also delves into her life, family, and relationships. The narrative vividly expresses the chaos of emotions, the bitterness of betrayal, and her gratitude towards those who helped her overcome the ordeal in the end.

Read More About Waciny Laredj

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