Ghada Samman’s ‘Beirut Nightmares’ was originally published in Arabic in 1976. Set at the height of the Lebanese Civil War, this autobiographical novel concerns two weeks in the life of a journalist and writer living at the heart of the warzone. With the conflict raging outside, and snipers on every corner, she is unable to leave her flat. The horror of the waking world soon finds its way into the dreamscape where disembodied limbs roam the flaming streets, and mannequins come to life.
Over the course of the programme, we discuss the strange mixture of realistic depictions of war and fantastical nightmares, boredom as a literary theme, and the clash between ideology and aesthetics within the novel.
Arab Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide 1873-1999 (2008, The American University in Cairo Press)
‘Arab Causes in the Fiction of Ghada Al-Samman 1961-1975’ by Hanan Awwad, reviewed by Miriam Cooke (Al-'Arabiyya, Vol. 17, No. 1/2 (Spring & Autumn 1984), pp. 129-133
‘The Square Moon: Supernatural Tales’ by Ghada Samman and Issa J. Boullata, reviewed by Evelyne Accad (World Literature Today, Vol. 73, No. 4, Celebrating Czesław Miłosz (Autumn, 1999), pp. 811-812