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'The Parisian is a sublime reading experience: delicate, restrained, surpassingly intelligent, uncommonly poised and truly beautiful. It is realism in the tradition of Flaubert and Stendhal - everything that happens feels not so much imagined as ordained. That this remarkable historical epic should be the debut of a writer in her twenties seems impossible, yet it's true. Isabella Hammad is an enormous talent and her book is a wonder.' - Zadie Smith

‘A sublime reading experience: delicate, restrained, surpassingly intelligent, uncommonly poised and truly beautiful’ Zadie Smith

As the First World War shatters families, destroys friendships and kills lovers, a young Palestinian dreamer sets out to find himself.

Midhat Kamal navigates his way across a fractured world, from the shifting politics of the Middle East to the dinner tables of Montpellier and a newly tumultuous Paris. He discovers that everything is fragile: love turns to loss, friends become enemies and everyone is looking for a place to belong.

Isabella Hammad delicately untangles the politics and personal tragedies of a turbulent era – the Palestinian struggle for independence, the strife of the early twentieth century and the looming shadow of the Second World War. An intensely human story amidst a global conflict, The Parisian is historical fiction with a remarkable contemporary voice.

*AN OBSERVER HOTTEST-TIPPED DEBUT NOVELIST OF 2019*

Reviews

The Parisian is a sublime reading experience: delicate, restrained, surpassingly intelligent, uncommonly poised and truly beautiful. It is realism in the tradition of Flaubert and Stendhal - everything that happens feels not so much imagined as ordained. That this remarkable historical epic should be the debut of a writer in her twenties seems impossible, yet it's true. Isabella Hammad is an enormous talent and her book is a wonder.

Zadie Smith

The Parisian is a lushly imagined, beautifully written, expansive powerhouse of a debut. Isabella Hammad is a great new voice.

Nathan Englander

The Parisian is a stunning 576-page debut, both a lush rendering of Palestinian life a century ago under the British Mandate and a sumptuous epic about the enduring nature of love… a small, beautiful, human story blazing against the enormity of the sociopolitical one… a novel you sink into.

Alessandra Codinha, Vogue

Breathtaking… Isabella Hammad establishes herself here as a literary force to be reckoned with. The Parisian is, in many ways, an extraordinary achievement.

Andrew Gallix, Irish Times

The Parisian is a gripping historical novel, a poignant romance, and a revelatory family epoch. Above all, it is a generous gift. There is a kind of joy that can hold not only pleasure, but struggle, and even sadness. This novel tells that kind of joyful story, and evokes that kind of joy in the reader.

Jonathan Safran Foer

One of the most ambitious first novels to have appeared in years… Written in soulful, searching prose, it’s a jam-packed epic… Hammad is a natural social novelist with an ear for lively dialogue as well as an ability to illuminate psychological interiority… Hammad is a writer of startling talent – and The Parisian has the rhythm of life.

Observer

The Parisian is extraordinary—wise, ambitious, and lavishly rewarding. With luminous prose and rare compassion, Bella Hammad offers her readers an absorbing story of war and identity, of love and independence, of hope and history. It’s an astonishing novel, heralding the arrival of a major talent.

Bret Anthony Johnston

The Parisian has an up-close immediacy and stylistic panache that are all the more impressive coming from a London-born writer still in her 20s… There are intimidating 19th-century precedents – Tolstoy, Turgenev, Stendhal… Isabella Hammad has crafted an exquisite novel that, like Midhat himself, delves back into the confusing past while remaining wholly anchored in the precarious present.

New York Times

Undeniably beautiful.

Andrew Holgate, The Times *The Best New Novelists of 2019*

An exquisite, intricate and wise novel. I was utterly gripped from the first page until the last. This sweeping, historical epic marks the arrival of a wonderfully gifted author. Isabella Hammad is a marvel and The Parisian is an unforgettable read.

Irenosen Okojie

It is startling to think this ambitious tour-de-force was written into life by someone at the start of their literary career… with even the tiniest of details meticulously observed, this debut follows the changing desires of a boy as he is moulded into a man, the irresistible pull of family loyalty and the search for peace, as much within, as on, the global stage.

Jemma Crew, Irish News

[In] this lavish, leisurely and immersive novel… an English-language epic steeped in Palestinian stories from almost a century ago… Ms Hammad overlays a sophisticated, up-to-date grasp of the scars, overt and covert, left by unjust authority onto the traditional pleasures of the sprawling historical saga… a novelist of vision.

Economist

An assured debut novel that sets the life of one man against the tumultuous backdrop of Palestine in the waning years of British occupation… Closely observed and elegantly written.

Kirkus *Starred Review*

An engrossing, sweeping novel.

Dipal Acharya, Evening Standard

It's a big family novel like Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy but it charts the history of Palestine... The prose is impeccable.

Leila Aboulela

Hammad taps into the satisfying slow-burn style of classic literature with a storyline that captures both the heart and the mind…This is an immensely rewarding novel that readers will sink into and savor.

Publishers Weekly

With masterful lyricism and unflinching insight, The Parisian captures the personal passion and political violence of a nascent nation’s struggle for independence. Hammad has written a profound and intoxicating epic, brimming with unexpected, vivid imagery and unforgettable characters. Hers is a fresh voice of the first order.

Bradford Morrow

You’ll be transported across decades, emotions, plots and people with gravity-defying ease… Uniting themes such as the breakdown of the Middle East (it’s an invaluable understanding into the problems that continue to this day) and the rootlessness of migrants, Hammad creates a real sense of time and place luxuriating in the details of food, smells and sights; take a weekend off and disappear into her vision.

Stylist

The Parisian by Isabella Hammad has already won advance praise from Zadie Smith, and deservedly so: this tale of a Palestinian immigrant... is beautiful historical fiction.

Evening Standard

The Parisian is a graceful and balanced book, animated throughout by an immense social intelligence… a pleasure to read.

John Phipps, Literary Review

Superb… There’s romance and adventure and adversity… sublimely written.

Good Housekeeping

Hammad clearly knows her stuff and the book echoes with contemporary political themes… The novel reminds us that anxiety about balancing day-to-day life with the demands of an unstable, frightening world is far from a modern problem.

Imogen West-Knights, The Times

[Hammad cuts] through the familiar dichotomies of West and Near East, placing her protagonist in a rich web of families, political intrigues, and cultural exchanges, and subtly reconfiguring the literary tropes of “home” and “abroad”.

New Yorker

The breadth of research…is impressive, as is Hammad’s granular depiction of this most politically complex of regions. With energy and care, she animates a crucial period of Palestinian history that most readers will know little about.

Claire Lowdon, Sunday Times

Sumptuous and sharply observed – an old-school novel to lose yourself in.

Metro

The Parisian is an ambitious and accomplished novel which casts light on an often-overlooked section of history.

Ann-Maria McCarthy, SheerLuxe

Hammad has an exquisite control on her subject: this is precise writing, measured, and careful. It doesn't sprawl; it pins… her detail makes you feel the homes and cities she takes us to, and the people that inhabit them, are as multifaceted and mysterious as those of real life… an achievement for any novelist, but for a debut by a 27-year-old, it's quite remarkable.

Holly Williams, Independent

For such a young writer, Isabella Hammad shows a rare maturity, both in her marshalling of a huge cast of characters and in her ability to illuminate such a politically charged period of history without didacticism or literary showboating.

Max Davidson, Mail on Sunday

The are moments of such lyric beauty in The Parisian, Isabella Hammad’s debut novel, that you want what they describe to be permanently closed, hers to be the final word… [The Parisian] also has a close grasp of history, and the high quality of its writing never fades.

Charles Finch, Washington Post

Complex, subtle and challenging… [The Parisian is] excelling––with a powerful ending that is moving in the way it knits together the themes of self-betrayal and social and political treachery.

Gareth Jenkins, Socialist Worker

The Parisian is akin to plunging into a great 19th-century classic, thanks to the languorous pace, easy poise, minute observations and the apparent ease with which Hammad takes her third person narrative from one character to another… There is also an underlying urgency to this rich, luscious novel… The Parisian is a skilful demonstration of how the personal and the political are inescapably intertwined.

Emily Rhodes, Financial Times

Isabella Hammad’s remarkably accomplished debut novel very quickly snares the reader’s attention… Hammad is a natural storyteller… The writing is deeply humane, its wide vision combined with poised restraint… The Parisian teems with riches – love, war, betrayal and madness – and marks the arrival of a bright new talent.

Robin Yassin-Kassab, Guardian

Reconciling oneself with the pain and pleasure of the ties that bind one to certain people and places is something that lies at the heart of Hammad’s novel… the world Hammad paints is a rich one.

Lucy Scholes

Hammad… convincingly weaves the conversations and arguments around the Palestinian table, inviting the reader to join the friends and family who are full of complexity and humanity, and refuse to be defined by the tragedy that is befalling them… To read The Parisian is to gradually get to know a friend, like drinking tea with a favourite uncle and hearing about family stories, gossip and politics.

Tanushka Marah, Middle East Eye

Provocative, testing and magnificently risky, this is an author writing for her life.

Sophie Ratcliffe, Daily Telegraph

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback

    9781911214434

    April 16, 2019

    Jonathan Cape

    576 pages

    RRP $37.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • The Parisian

    Hardback

    9781911214427

    April 11, 2019

    Jonathan Cape

    576 pages

    RRP $40.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • The Parisian

    EBook

    9781473547674

    April 11, 2019

    Vintage Digital

    576 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle NZ
    • iBooks NZ
    • Google Play EBook NZ
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia NZ

Extract

1

There was one other Arab onboard the ship to Marseille. His name was Faruq al-Azmeh, and the day after leaving port in Alexandria he approached Midhat at breakfast, with a plate of toast in one hand and a string of amber prayer beads in the other. He sat, tugged at the cuffs of his shirt, and started to describe without any introduction how he was returning from Damascus to resume his teaching post in the language department of the Sorbonne. He had left Paris at the outbreak of war but after the Miracle of the Marne was determined to return. He had grey eyes and a slightly rectangular head.

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