Book Review: Syrian Brides
“You are my wife. I would never hurt a hair on your head. If it takes violence to prove my manliness, then I’d rather be a wimp.” - Syrian Brides, Anna Halabi
Anna Halabi was born in Aleppo, Syria. She immigrated to Europe for her studies, and since then she has settled there with her family. Halabi provides a unique and genuine perspective of her own country and culture. Her characters are based on family members, friends, and/or other people in which she has a connection.
Syrian Brides is a wonderfully-written collection of 11 short stories that will immerse you into Syrian culture and geography with every page turn. Each chapter focuses on the life of a bride, or soon-to-be bride, in Syria and her relationship with those around her. One of my favorite features of the book is how the author exposes the reader to Arabic, and how she uses the poetic and figurative elements of the language intertwined with the religion and culture of Syria. I feel like Halabi was very intentional with her descriptions in the way she portrayed elements of the Arabic language throughout her English writing. I highly enjoyed the cultural phrases and etiquette she included between characters because I believe these elements are vital when portraying a way of life, which differs from our own.
Through storytelling, Ana Halabi is able to address some aspects of Syrian cultural (i.e. societal norms, gender roles, piety, etc.) by bringing humor into her characters' experiences. The stories represent a variety of beliefs and expectations concerning women and the roles they play within the home and society. Each girl's circumstance is unique and provides insight into the rationale behind her behaviors and decisions. The author does not provide a stereotypical view of Arab culture, but rather each story presents a potential reality that any woman could find as part of her story.
Syrian Brides is a short-read that you will not be able to put down. Katie and I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the Middle East and Syrian culture.