“The narrator of Always Coca-Cola, Abeer Ward (fragrant rose, in Arabic), daughter of a conservative family, admits wryly that her name is also the name of her father’s flower shop. Abeer’s bedroom window is filled by a view of a Coca-Cola sign featuring the image of her sexually adventurous friend, Jana. From the novel’s opening paragraph—“When my mother was pregnant with me, she had only one craving. That craving was for Coca-Cola”—first-time novelist Alexandra Chreiteh asks us to see, with wonder, humor, and dismay, how inextricably confused naming and desire, identity and branding are. The names—and the novel’s edgy, cynical humor—might be recognizable across languages, but Chreiteh’s novel is first and foremost an exploration of a specific Lebanese milieu. Critics in Lebanon have called the novel “an electric shock.”
About the authors
?Alexandra Chreiteh is pursuing a Ph.D. in comparative literature at Yale University.
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.