May — the Nights of Isis Copia

Waciny Laredj

May — the Nights of Isis Copia is based on the life of the well-known Lebanese writer May Ziade and highlights the important role played by women in a society gripped by stifling patriarchy. May finds herself unfortunately positioned amongst the great male cultural figures of her day, including Taha Hussein and Mustafa Sadiq Al-Raf‘i. Although they love her, and she is one of the first to receive them at her literary salon in the 1920s and 1930s, they also fear her. Despite working tirelessly on behalf of women, she is rejected as a Lebanese Christian woman and after losing people dear to her, suffers from depression and becomes a recluse. In an attempt to gain control of her finances, her nephew Joseph has her admitted into Al-‘Usfouriyya, the mental hospital. The novel hones in on the moment of her ‘madness’ and her attempt to prove her sanity, even as the intellectual elite wage a cruel war against her, making no attempt to save her from the jaws of Al-‘Usfouriyya.    ​


Dar al-Adab


2019 Longlist