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Fiction Short Stories (single Author)

The Syrian Ladies Benevolent Society


by (author) Christine Estima

House of Anansi Press Inc
Initial publish date
Nov 2023
Short Stories (single author), General, Contemporary Women
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 2023
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2023
    List Price

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With imaginative aplomb and abiding passion, The Syrian Ladies Benevolent Society masterfully traces the deep roots of the Arab immigrant experience. These unforgettable interlocking stories follow an Arab family as they flee the Middle East in the nineteenth century, settle in Montreal in the twentieth, and face the collision between tradition and modernity in the twenty-first. This family includes trailblazing Lebanese freedom fighters, undercover operatives in World War II, and brave Syrian refugees trying to find their place in Canadian society.

The line of daring women culminates in Azurée, a young Arab woman living in the echoes of her ancestors' voices.

About the author

CHRISTINE ESTIMA is an Arab woman of mixed ethnicity (Lebanese, Syrian, and Portuguese) whose essays and short stories have appeared in the New York Times, the Walrus, VICE, the Globe and Mail, Chatelaine, Maisonneuve, and many more. She was shortlisted for the 2018 Allan Slaight Prize for Journalism, longlisted for the 2015 CBC Canada Writes Creative Nonfiction prize, and a finalist for the 2011 Writers’ Union of Canada short prose competition. Born in Trois-Rivières and raised in Montreal, she lives in Toronto.

Christine Estima's profile page


  • Commended, CBC 2023 Best Canadian Fiction

Editorial Reviews

Memorable, vivid, and subversive at times, the stories bring to life a type of female experience seldom seen in immigrant narratives.

New Canadian Media

Years in the making, [The Syrian Ladies Benevolent Society] reveals a writer who is sure of her subject and craft … Precise and sensitive.

Literary Review of Canada

A genuine and compelling narrative … The Syrian Ladies’ Benevolent Society is smart, elegant, and a necessary contribution to the overall literature challenging so many suffocating cultural stereotypes in Canadian society.

The Miramichi Reader

The material in these stories often does more than just flirt with dark subject matter, but the author’s empathy and sharp understanding of human frailty nevertheless injects The Syrian Ladies Benevolent Society with the vibrancy of life. The book opens with a reference to fire, and Estima is a valiant recorder of the heat that burns us, inside and out.

That Shakespearean Rag

In writing across cultures, borders, and centuries, Estima credits her ancestors with direct inspiration: ‘I hear your voices in my veins; you will not be forgotten.’ Neither will Estima's enthralling writing.

Shelf Awareness

Across the varying settings and time periods, what remains consistent is Estima’s detailed and evocative prose as she weaves a haunting tale of how the pain of loss—whether of our home, our loved ones or our sense of self—reverberates across generations.


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