My Name Is Zayzafoune
Sausan Jamil Hasan
The novel explores Arab moral double standards which make the individual, women in particular, wear a false face and live as spectators of their own lives rather than autonomous players in them. The two names of the heroine of the novel (Jahida/Zayzafoune) serve to highlight these double standards. After a watershed moment in her life when she faints, at the age of sixty Zayzafoune realises that life can be imagined in a way entirely different to how she has lived it all these years. This moment, in Latakia, Syria, on a Summer’s day in 2019, marks one of two parallel time strands in the novel, which continues into the early months of 2020. The second timeline consists of memories of the past. The novel reflects deeply on the self: In what ways do people hate themselves? How can they hold on to life and love it, and what reason can they find to do that?