Our virtual series of book talks features Arab authors to showcase some of the breadth and diversity in Arab fiction writing. We invite you to connect with the authors as they delve into a riveting discussion of the sociocultural, literary, and personal factors that shape their storytelling.
Join us for a conversation with author, Layla AlAmmar, moderated by Shahd Alshammari.
Tuesday, April 6
7:00 - 8:00 pm Amman
12:00 - 1:00 pm New York Register here
Silence is a Sense
A young woman spends her days watching the neighbors through their windows. She is a refugee who has seen the failure of the Arab Spring in her homeland and who has been traumatized into silence by her brutal journey from Syria to Britain.
As an outsider, a mute voyeur, she sees everything, she hears everything: the love, the fighting, the families, the secrets, the lies, the sex, the shame. Slowly drawn into the community that surrounds her, she begins to come to terms with all she has lost. After a brutal attack on the local mosque, she realizes she is the only witness to the truth behind the violence. But will she finally speak of all she’s seen?
The Pact We Made
‘How could I explain to her that nothing in my life felt real? That in a country like Kuwait, where everyone knew everything about each other, the most monumental thing to ever happen to me was buried and covered over? For the sake of my reputation, my future, my sister’s and cousins; the family honor sat on my little shoulders, so no-one could ever know.’
Dahlia has two lives. In one, she is a young woman with a good job, great friends, and a busy social life. In the other, she is an unmarried daughter living at home, struggling with a burgeoning anxiety disorder and a deeply buried secret: a violent betrayal too shameful to speak of.
With her thirtieth birthday fast-approaching, pressure from her mother to accept a marriage proposal begins to strain the family. As her two lives start to collide and fracture, all Dahlia can think of is escape: something that seems impossible when she can’t even leave the country without her father’s consent. But what if Dahlia does have a choice? What if all she needs is the courage to make it?
Set in contemporary Kuwait, The Pact We Made is a deeply affecting and timely debut about family, secrets, and one woman’s search for a different life.
Layla AlAmmar is a writer and academic from Kuwait with a Master's in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh. She is currently pursuing a PhD at Lancaster University, researching Arab women's fiction as archives of traumatic memory. Her debut novel, The Pact We Made (2019) was longlisted for the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award and nominated for the First Book Award at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Her second novel, Silence is a Sense, was published in March 2021. She has written for The Guardian and Arablit Quarterly.
Shahd Alshammari is Assistant Professor of Literature at Gulf University for Science and Technology, Kuwait. Her research interests include madness in literature, disability studies, and illness narratives. She is the author of Notes on the Flesh (Faraxa Press, 2017) and will be releasing her memoir in 2022 with Neem Tree Press (United Kingdom).