A bracing and vividly told story set against the backdrops of the Tunisian Bread Riots in 1984 and the Jasmine Revolution in 2010, Hope Has Two Daughters offers a glimpse inside revolution from the perspectives of a mother and daughter.
Unwilling to endure a culture of silence and submission, and disowned by her family, Nadia leaves her native Tunisia in 1984 amidst deadly violence, chaos, and rioting brought on by rising food costs, eventually emigrating to Canada to begin her life.
More than twenty-five years later, Nadia’s daughter Lila reluctantly travels to Tunisia to learn about her mother’s birth country. While she’s there, she connects with Nadia’s childhood friends, Neila and Mounir. She uncovers agonizing truths about her mother’s life as a teenager and imagines what it might have been like to grow up in fear of political instability and social unrest. As she is making these discoveries, protests over poor economic conditions and lack of political freedom are increasing, and soon, Lila finds herself in the midst of another revolution — one that will inflame the country and change the Arab world, and her, forever.
Weaving together the voices of two women at two pivotal moments in history, the Tunisian Bread Riots in 1984 and the Jasmine Revolution in 2010, Hope Has Two Daughters is a vivid story that perfectly captures life inside revolution.
About the authors
Monia Mazigh was born and raised in Tunisia and immigrated to Canada in 1991. Mazigh was catapulted onto the public stage in 2002 when her husband, Maher Arar, was deported to Syria where he was tortured and held without charge. She campaigned tirelessly for his release. Mazigh holds a Ph.D. in finance from McGill University. She has published a memoir, Hope and Despair, and her novel Miroirs et mirages was published in the original French in 2011 and was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award.
A three-time winner of the Governor General's Award for translation, and shortlisted for his 2009 translation of Thierry Hentsch's Le temps aboli (Empire of Desire), Fred A. Reed has translated works by many of Quebec's leading authors, several in collaboration with novelist David Homel, as well as works by Nikos Kazantzakis and other modern Greek writers. His most recent work, with David Homel, includes Philippe Arsenault's Zora and Martine Desjardins' The Green Chamber. Baraka Books will publish his translation, from Modern Greek, of Yannis Tsirbas' Vic City Express in September. His latest book is Then We Were One: Fragments of Two Lives, an autobiographical essay, published in French by Fides Éditeur.
Excerpt: Hope Has Two Daughters (by (author) Monia Mazigh; translated by Fred Reed)
The two girls were called Reem and Farah. They giggled to themselves as they glanced at one another, flickering their eyelids. One had her hair done pageboy style, slicked down, and a button nose, light-coloured skin, and slightly slanted eyes that made her look like a cat about to pounce. The other was constantly adjusting her abundant chestnut hair with the back of her hand. Her black eyes accentuated the whiteness of her skin; a few reddish blotches marked her oval face. Reem and Farah looked me over carefully when they saw me come in with Donia. Even before we were introduced, I knew they wouldn’t like me. My ripped jeans, my multiple earrings worn in a line along my earlobe, the high forehead I’d inherited from my mom, and my blues eyes, just like my dad’s: everything about me told them just how foreign I was. Even my brown and hopelessly curly hair that stood out in corkscrew-like tufts from my head — another hand-me-down from Mom and a source of wonder, of compliments, and admiration during my childhood in Canada — was not enough for them to see me as a Tunisian. Me, the daughter born of the marriage of Nadia the Tunisian and Alex the Canadian. In their eyes, I was some kind of strange mix, a hybrid, a monstrosity produced by the meeting of two distinct worlds but clearly belonging to neither.
Monia Mazigh’s latest novel takes readers through a cycle of hope, uprising, despair and hope again in a story of two girls awakened by civil unrest.
The Globe and Mail
Hope Has Two Daughters adds significantly to a growing body of literature by and about Muslim women and sheds fresh light on a country still experiencing its own coming of age.
The Toronto Star
Both readable and relevant, especially since the reverberations of the Jasmine Revolution are still being felt today.
The Winnipeg Free Press
Monia Mazigh's second novel is an engaging book in which choices abound for young Muslim women.
The Ottawa Citizen
An important work of fiction.
Quill and Quire