Hello. Today I’m delighted to be joined by Anna Halabi who is sharing with us her Secret Library. Anna was born and raised in Aleppo, Syria. She immigrated to Europe in 1999 to pursue her university studies. She currently lives with her family in Germany.
I came across Anna when she released Syrian Brides: a collection of socially critical short stories about the everyday life of married women in Aleppo. Funny and celebratory, they don’t hold back from exploring the tragedy of the women’s oppression. She says that the stories and characters in this collection are inspired by her personal experiences, as well as those of her relatives and friends.
Here are her choices:
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
The Glass Castle is a touching autobiography about a little girl growing up in a dysfunctional family. Her parents, egotistical and narcistic, neglected her and her siblings throughout their childhood. Despite the hardships, Walls portrays her difficult life in an adventurous and somehow romantic flair. This is an inspiring book about unwavering hope, unconditional love and coming of age.
Two Steps Forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist
Two Steps Forward is about the journey of two pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela. The authors describe the transformation of both characters in such a vivid manner. It is an inspiring story about change, maturity and love.
The two characters meet a large palette of other pilgrims on their journey, like we all do in our daily lives. The shallow bimbos, the nerds, the religious, the mourning and the merry. It was interesting to see how they interacted and what motivated them to walk the Camino.
Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini
This short book broke my heart. It is about a father praying for the safe journey over the Mediterranean Sea for his young son. He is torn between the danger of staying in the war-ridden Syria and taking the risk of crossing the Mediterranean.
It is about hope and sorrow. It touched a sore spot since I am from Syria myself. It was well written and beautifully illustrated, that it was so easy to empathize with the suffering father…and I couldn’t stop crying.
Books like this inspired me to write Syrian Brides. It is a collection of short stories about the life of women in Aleppo before the war broke out. I wanted the world to see what life was like before my fellow Syrians fled our home country and put their lives at the mercy of the waves.
Thanks Anna, for a fantastic mix bringing us hope and sadness. I’ve mentioned Syrian Brides and I note that the short stories in the collection have some extremely tantalising names…you can check them out here (as always, an affiliate link).
See you soon in the Secret Library!