Suhaila lies in a coma in a Paris hospital. Her son Nadir flies in from Canada, and friends keep vigil. As she lies voiceless and suspended between life and death we, like Nadir, come to discover her through the multiple narratives that hover around her sickbed: fragments of conversations, memories, and letters, all (re)membered, first by Nadir, and then through Suhaila's diary entries in Paris and in Canada. The loved ones of the title are the constellation of friends, predominantly women, who flock to Suhaila's side from all over the world to envelope her in the warmth of friendship that may ultimately save her and enable her rebirth. Suhaila comes alive through the stories about: her excesses, her love of dancing, of wine, and of poetry, despite years of abuse by her Iraqi husband, the bleakness of exile from home, and the frustrating separation from her only son. "The Loved Ones" is an intimately moving, polyphonic narrative of displacement and nomadism, a disjointed, at times disfigured tale that blends diverse time frames so that the past, the present, and the future are unified, interlocked, and intertwined.
This award-winning novel is a hymn to friendship and to boundless giving that ultimately restores life - it is a story about memory and history, a story against forgetting.