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Love is like water

Syracuse University Press | Sep 15, 2009

Like the author of this remarkable collection of thirteen linked stories, the protagonist, Nadia, was born and raised in Egypt, educated in England, and immigrated to the United States. Samia Serageldin draws her characters out with subtlety and control, moving from the narrator’s grandmother’s garden house in Cairo to the suburbs of North Carolina, yielding powerful portraits of cultural dislocation, faith, and multigenerational conflicts.
As the narratives shift in time and place, they unfold through memory. In the title story, Nadia offers a vivid sketch of her grandmother Nanou, “a force of nature” who, as an early widow, single-handedly raised six children and ran the household and her estates, at at time when few women enjoyed any sort of independence. The arc of the narrative follows the narrator over the decades from Egypt to post-911 North Carolina, and the brutal dislocation she experiences when her comfortable world of assimilation in America is shattered overnight. Told with compassion and clarity, Serageldin’s stories reveal one woman’s exploration of identity, finding it in both the sweeping backdrop of Egyptian history and the quotidian exchanges with friends and family.

"I admire the irony, sophistication, and smoothness of the narrative voice; we automatically like, and more importantly trust this narrative." Lee smith, best-selling author of The Last Girls.

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