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Publisher's Summary

A masterful debut novel by Plimpton Prize winner Isabella Hammad, The Parisian illuminates a pivotal period of Palestinian history through the journey and romances of one young man, from his studies in France during World War I to his return to Palestine at the dawn of its battle for independence. 

Midhat Kamal is the son of a wealthy textile merchant from Nablus, a town in Ottoman Palestine. A dreamer, a romantic, an aesthete, in 1914 he leaves to study medicine in France, and falls in love. When Midhat returns to Nablus to find it under British rule, and the entire region erupting with nationalist fervor, he must find a way to cope with his conflicting loyalties and the expectations of his community. 

The story of Midhat's life develops alongside the idea of a nation, as he and those close to him confront what it means to strive for independence in a world that seems on the verge of falling apart. Against a landscape of political change that continues to define the Middle East, The Parisian explores questions of power and identity, enduring love, and the uncanny ability of the past to disrupt the present. 

Lush and immersive, and devastating in its power, The Parisian is an elegant, richly imagined debut from a dazzling new voice in fiction.

©2019 Isabella Hammad (P)2019 Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Parisian

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Overly ambitious

Historical fiction based on the author’s great grandfather. I was especially interested in the historical background, but it was force fed, and was not an organic part of the story. In addition, the audiobook narrator would have benefited from listening to some Arabic natives before attempting the basic words.

7 people found this helpful

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Best story and narrator

For me, this is a best! an intimate look at a family in an interesting place/time. I hope the writer tells more of the time before this and the time after. I love her language.

5 people found this helpful

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Phenomenal story!

Absolutely loved the writing style of this young author. Highlights the need for all of us to see the gray areas of personal and political conflicts (things are very nuanced.) I appreciated how the character is perceived as "other"not just in Europe but in his homeland upon his return and how the author strikes just the right balance so that his situation doesn't become a strident caricature. Can't wait to see what this author will write next. (**Too bad the publisher misspelled her last name on the audiobook artwork!!! HAMMAD, not Hammand)

5 people found this helpful

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Excellent historical novel

This is a view of the Middle East I was only vaguely aware of. I had read the history, but sometimes it takes a work of fiction to flesh out the facts, to give one a sense of what it just might have been like to be alive at that time. Beautifully written and read.

5 people found this helpful

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Could have picked someone else to read

As a native Arabic speaker it was very disappointing to have to listen to someone who couldn’t pronounce Arabic words appropriately. Anyone in Lebanon speaks French, Arabic and English. Very surprised this reader was chosen as it really took away from the story.

2 people found this helpful

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Heartwarming and heartbreaking

This is a powerful story told in the authors voice. It was obviously extremely well researched. I love this book so much that I recommended it to my father.

It’s a beautiful story beautifully told.

1 person found this helpful

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Beautifully Woven Tapestry

I can't figure out what review persuaded me to purchase this book. The era - France, end of the Ottoman Empire, WWI, the Middle East, Palestine and Israel - but it was likely the story of young Midhat Kamal transported in 1914 from his home to study medicine in France that grabbed me. And I was initially disappointed when the story moved from Montpelier and Paris to the less familiar city of Nablus (an ancient city now part of the West Bank occupied by Israel).
Then richness of the characters, the settings, and the political turmoil that impact us even now, and how the events are seen in the everyday life of Midhat all invite you further into the saga. He is rather disoriented by his time in France and his return to his family. Political events are disrupting Nablus and the region, but life goes on for the rather privileged son of a upper middle class family. The author gives us rich and beautifully detailed moments and you end up with an amazing picture not only of the Midhat Kamal's romantic and dreamy quest for identity, but his family and friends in their struggle for independence under British occupation.
My overall score of three stars is due to the lack of the list of characters that is provided in the printed edition. There are so many characters, and their names matter as they are woven through this wonderful story.

1 person found this helpful

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A sweet read

The Parisian was a surprising mix of thoughtful, engaging, suspenceful, clear and informative. Fiona Button has a lovely voice and she was able to bring the characters, their personalities and the language code switching to life. I found this book accurate in terms of the history and spot on in terms of the culture. Besides being entertaining, this is a must read for those of us who live within more than one culture.

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Arabic pronunciation

Hammad's novel is captivating and the narration is done very well EXCEPT for the Arabic pronunciation. Part of the art of this novel is its interweaving of Arabic throughout the text. It is really a shame to hear the importance of the language in this work disregarded so blatantly. Imagine if the narrator had read this novel, in which French is also abundant, with absolutely no knowledge of proper French pronunciation. Care for the proper pronunciation of French but not Arabic is clearly taken for granted by the producers of this audio book, unacceptable for a novel predominantly set in the Arab world.

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did not likr

well read but an u fulfilling story line without resolution. too many loose ends to enjoy it