Palestinian-Armenian Ivana eloped with a British doctor in the 1940s, in the midst of the Nakba, and emigrated to England. Over half a century later, her daughter Julie has been tasked with her dying wish: to take her ashes back to their old home in Acre. With her husband Walid, they leave London and embark on a journey back to their country of birth. Written in four parts, each as a concerto movement, Rabai al-Madhoun's pioneering new novel explores Palestinian exile, with all its complex loyalties and identities. Broad in scope and sweeping in its history, it lays bare the tragedy of everyday Palestinian life.
Rabai al-Madhoun is a Palestinian writer and journalist, born in al-Majdal, in southern Palestine in 1945. His family went to Gaza during the Nakba in 1948 and he later studied at Cairo and Alexandria universities, before being expelled from Egypt in 1970 for his political activities. He is the author of the acclaimed The Lady from Tel Aviv, which was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2010, and has worked for a number of Arabic newspapers and magazines, including al-Quds al-Arabi, Al-Hayat, and Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. He currently lives in London, in the UK. Paul Starkey, professor emeritus of Arabic at Durham University, won the 2015 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation. He has translated a number of contemporary Arabic writers, including Edwar al-Kharrat, Youssef Rakha, and Mansoura Ez-Eldin.