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Fiction Family Life

All the Women Inside Me

by (author) Jana Elhassan

translated by Michelle Hartman

Interlink Books
Initial publish date
Apr 2021
Family Life, Literary, Contemporary Women
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2021
    List Price

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Surviving a cold childhood, overshadowed by her parents’ unhappiness and their distant relationship to her, Sahar expects to escape through marriage when she meets the compelling and charming Sami, who is interested in every detail of her life. But what seemed at first to be his loving interest rapidly becomes controlling and ultimately abusive. Sahar yearns for a way out of her intertwined experiences of loss and loneliness. In All the Women Inside Me, Jana Elhassan presents an intricate psychological portrait of a woman, as well as the complexities of interpersonal relationships. The novel’s innovative structure allows it to plumb psychological and philosophical depths beyond the specific characters revealing a profound humanity. Sahar’s father is the lapsed leftist who masks his boredom by busying himself with great causes. Her depressed mother’s nerves are as delicate as the crystal she keeps immaculately polished in her home. A charlatan sheikh trades in religious magic, making a profit off of people’s misery. A boyfriend leaves his great love to marry a “more appropriate” good girl. Sahar navigates her way through so many relationships, ill-prepared by her parents and unhappy childhood home. Her imagination is what allows her to act out all of the desires she has been denied throughout her whole life, from her childhood to her abusive marriage. But she also finds solace in her best friend, Hala, who has faced her own difficult childhood and adolescence and later a series of destructive relationships. At the same time that this novel is able to capture the intensity of emotions and experiences in women’s lives, it is not merely a story about the power of imagination to enrich the lives of oppressed women. Elhassan’s novel is a stark appraisal of how far women are pushed and the length to which women will go to escape a reality that is rotten at the core.

About the authors

Jana Fawaz Elhassan is an award-winning novelist and short story writer from Lebanon. She has worked as a journalist for leading newspapers and TV since 2008. In November 2015, she was featured in the BBC 100 Women Season, an annual two-week season that features inspiring women from around the world. Her first novel won Lebanon’s Simon Hayek Award and her second and third novels (Me, She, and the Other Woman and The Ninety-Ninth Floor) were shortlisted for the International Prize of Arabic Fiction. This is her second novel to be translated into English.

Jana Elhassan's profile page

Michelle Hartman is a professor of Arabic and francophone literature at McGill University in Montreal. She is the translator of several works from Arabic, including Radwa Ashour’s memoir The Journey, Iman Humaydan’s novels Wild Mulberries and Other Lives,Alexandra Chreiteh’s novels Always Coca Cola and Ali and His Russian Mother, Shahla Ujayli’s novels A Sky So Close to Us and Summer with the Enemy as well as Jana Elhassan’s IPAF shortlisted novel The Ninety-Ninth Floor.

Michelle Hartman's profile page

Other titles by Michelle Hartman