The Loved Ones

Alia Mamdouh / Translated by Marilyn Booth

‘Ferocious, visceral descriptions … give a powerful sense not only of Suhailia’s world but also of the way we make and understand memories.’

‘Leaves an indelible impression’
Library Journal


Suhaila lies in a coma in a Paris hospital. The loved ones of the title are the constellation of friends, predominantly women, who flock to Suhaila’s side from all over the world to envelop her in the warmth of friendship that may ultimately save and her enable her rebirth. Suhaila comes alive through the stories about her: her excesses, her love of dancing, of wine, and of poetry, despite the years of abuse by her Iraqi husband, the bleakness of exile from home, and the frustrating separation from her only son.

The Loved Ones is an intimately moving, polyphonic narrative of displacement, a disjointed, at times disfigured tale that blends diverse time frames so that the past, the present, and the future are intertwined and unified. This award-winning novel is a hymn to friendship and to boundless giving that ultimately restores life – it is a story about memory and history, a story against forgetting.

ALIA MAMDOUH was born in Iraq and received her degree in psychology from the University of Mastansariya in 1971. She served as editor-in-chief of al-Rasid magazine from 1970 to 1982. She is the author of Naphtalene: A Novel of Baghdad (AUC Press, 2005), and received the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature for The Loved Ones in 2004.

MARILYN BOOTH is the translator of The Open Door by Latifa Zayat (AUC Press, 2000), Leaves of Narcissus by Somaya Ramadan (AUC Press, 2002), and Hoda Barakat’s The Tiller of Waters (AUC Press, 2003).

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