The Parisian

Narrated by: Fiona Button
Length: 20 hrs and 18 mins
4 out of 5 stars (110 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A masterful debut novel by Plimpton Prize winner Isabella Hammad, The Parisian illuminates a pivotal period of Palestinian history through the journey and romances of one young man, from his studies in France during World War I to his return to Palestine at the dawn of its battle for independence. 

Midhat Kamal is the son of a wealthy textile merchant from Nablus, a town in Ottoman Palestine. A dreamer, a romantic, an aesthete, in 1914 he leaves to study medicine in France, and falls in love. When Midhat returns to Nablus to find it under British rule, and the entire region erupting with nationalist fervor, he must find a way to cope with his conflicting loyalties and the expectations of his community. 

The story of Midhat's life develops alongside the idea of a nation, as he and those close to him confront what it means to strive for independence in a world that seems on the verge of falling apart. Against a landscape of political change that continues to define the Middle East, The Parisian explores questions of power and identity, enduring love, and the uncanny ability of the past to disrupt the present. 

Lush and immersive, and devastating in its power, The Parisian is an elegant, richly imagined debut from a dazzling new voice in fiction.

©2019 Isabella Hammad (P)2019 Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Parisian

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Overly ambitious

Historical fiction based on the author’s great grandfather. I was especially interested in the historical background, but it was force fed, and was not an organic part of the story. In addition, the audiobook narrator would have benefited from listening to some Arabic natives before attempting the basic words.

5 people found this helpful

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Best story and narrator

For me, this is a best! an intimate look at a family in an interesting place/time. I hope the writer tells more of the time before this and the time after. I love her language.

5 people found this helpful

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Excellent historical novel

This is a view of the Middle East I was only vaguely aware of. I had read the history, but sometimes it takes a work of fiction to flesh out the facts, to give one a sense of what it just might have been like to be alive at that time. Beautifully written and read.

5 people found this helpful

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Beautifully Woven Tapestry

I can't figure out what review persuaded me to purchase this book. The era - France, end of the Ottoman Empire, WWI, the Middle East, Palestine and Israel - but it was likely the story of young Midhat Kamal transported in 1914 from his home to study medicine in France that grabbed me. And I was initially disappointed when the story moved from Montpelier and Paris to the less familiar city of Nablus (an ancient city now part of the West Bank occupied by Israel).
Then richness of the characters, the settings, and the political turmoil that impact us even now, and how the events are seen in the everyday life of Midhat all invite you further into the saga. He is rather disoriented by his time in France and his return to his family. Political events are disrupting Nablus and the region, but life goes on for the rather privileged son of a upper middle class family. The author gives us rich and beautifully detailed moments and you end up with an amazing picture not only of the Midhat Kamal's romantic and dreamy quest for identity, but his family and friends in their struggle for independence under British occupation.
My overall score of three stars is due to the lack of the list of characters that is provided in the printed edition. There are so many characters, and their names matter as they are woven through this wonderful story.

1 person found this helpful

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Phenomenal story!

Absolutely loved the writing style of this young author. Highlights the need for all of us to see the gray areas of personal and political conflicts (things are very nuanced.) I appreciated how the character is perceived as "other"not just in Europe but in his homeland upon his return and how the author strikes just the right balance so that his situation doesn't become a strident caricature. Can't wait to see what this author will write next. (**Too bad the publisher misspelled her last name on the audiobook artwork!!! HAMMAD, not Hammand)

5 people found this helpful

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did not likr

well read but an u fulfilling story line without resolution. too many loose ends to enjoy it

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A Literary Jewel

What a story, woven into the historical background of Palestine. A man’s life examined from within. Loved reading this escape into another land and time. I’ll remember these characters.

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great story

wonderful wandering tale, great characters and storytelling. I loved it and look forward to reading more from Isabella Hammad.

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Beautifully read

This book does tell a story rarely told. It is, perhaps, based on someone’s life, however, to me it implied that visiting a foreign country causes madness in later life, and that bothered me. The narration was stellar. The story well told.