Book Review: Syrian Brides By Anna Halabi

Book Details

Title: Syrian Brides

Writer: Anna Halabi

GoodReads: Syrian Brides

Author Profile

Anna Halabi was born and raised in Aleppo, Syria. She emigrated to Europe in 1999 for her university studies. She currently lives with her family in Germany.
Syrian Brides is her debut as an author. The stories and characters in this collection were inspired by her personal experiences as well as her relatives, friends and TV shows.Synopsis

This delightful collection of short stories offers insight into the lives of Syrian women, both the married and the brides-to-be. It reveals the warmth and humor as well as the oppression in the Syrian society. The stories make the reader laugh while addressing serious issues such as domestic violence.

Um Hussam can’t find a suitable bride for her son, testing each candidate’s sight, hearing and reading skills, occasionally cobbing a feel.

Jamila’s husband Hassan can’t forget his deceased wife, until she makes sure he never mentions her again.

Rami can’t help but wonder whether his new bride is a natural beauty or a talented surgeon’s masterpiece.

Khadija’s maid stabs her in the back while Rana’s husband Muafak can’t find the right excuse to avoid a fight.

Non Review Rant

I have received a copy of the book from the author in exchange of a fair and honest review. Thank you Anna, for the opportunity to review your book, and for providing the review copy.

 

Review

I love the dedication.
The book is a collection of short stories. I would like to review it by story.

Nobody’s Bride

The first one in the collection – the story is about Aby Islam and Abu Ghousan and a con-woman. I feel that i have read similar con act before. However, the description of the characters, the setting is vivid. I was able to visualize the whole story.
The Groom’s MiracleAh, this one is about Bana and Bassam and their kind neighbour Hala. It was a short and engaging story. The relationship between the two woman, the relationship between Bana and her husband, the husband in all his arrogance – everything is depicted beautifully.
Although the book is about Syrian brides, I could feel that women, especially Muslim women, meet the same fate in their husbands’ house. I am not saying that every Muslim husband is a horrible man. But the stories I have heard from my relatives, cousins, and friends, it boils down to the same thing – a man who thinks himself like the most superior being on earth and treats his better-half as the most inferior.

The Nostalgic Groom

This story is about Jamila and Hassan. her son’s first wife is deceased and he seemed to have struck with her memories forever, much to the discomfort of Jamila.

I loved the story.

Examining the Bride

This story is hilarious and painful at the same time. It is about Um Hussam and Um Ahmad. Um Hussam and her big talk followed by a series of acts to examine the girl perfectly portrays the groom’s mother’s mentality. It is saddening to me that the trend is not limited to India. The story tells me that mothers from other countries are also the same. God bless us.

The Bride’s Maid

This story is about a married couple and their maid.

The Groom’s Excuse

The first story which shows that woman is not always the victim.

The Counterfeit Bride

Yet another story that touches a few pain points. On surface, it shows that the bride has everything fakes – fair nails, fake hair extension, coloured lenses  and what not. However, in my opinion, the story is about how the groom and groom’s mother want the perfect bride.

Bravo, counterfeit bride!

The Groom’s Hand

A story about a man who showered his wife with presents every time he beat her. And, surprisingly, even that becomes a point of jealousy for her sister, who, upon returning home, insists her husband to beat her. Phew!

The Greedy Bride

Poor husband! Ungli badhayi to biwi hath hi pakadne lagi (urdu).

The Bride’s Poison

This story is not so much about bride and groom. It focuses on the relation of a bride with her mother-in-law. As the name suggests, she tries to poison her mother-in-law, only to realize her mistake later.

The Bride’s Cake

Sometimes we live in a hole and consider ourselves a victim, until we see the bitter reality.

Verdict

All the stories were short and crisp. I was able to understand most of the Arabic words, without referring to the glossary.

I liked how the man and woman address each other.

My favourite was ‘Examining the bride’. ‘The counterfiet bride’ was on same lines and came very close to becoming my first choice.

I thoroughly enjoyed all the stories. I recommend it to everyone – especially people who like short reads.

Cover: 3.5 / 5
Plot: 5 / 5
Writing: 4 / 5

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Shabana Mukhtar


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