The Parisian

Narrated by: Fiona Button
Length: 20 hrs and 18 mins
4.1 out of 5 stars (16 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of The Parisian, written by Isabella Hammad, read by Fiona Button.

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

Midhat Kamal picks his way across a fractured world, from the shifting politics of the Middle East to the dinner tables of Montpelier 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 unpicks the tangled politics and personal tragedies of a turbulent era - the Palestinian struggle for independence, the strife of the early 20th 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.

©2019 Isabella Hammad (P)2019 Random House Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"The Parisian is a sublime reading experience: delicate, restrained, surpassingly intelligent, uncommonly poised and truly beautiful. Isabella Hammad is an enormous talent and her book is a wonder." (Zadie Smith)

What listeners say about The Parisian

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    1 out of 5 stars

Endure it if you must

Long drawn out story told in tedious detail with fortune cookie wisdom in the last 10 minutes. Either the setting or the conflict around middle eastern wars would need to be of interest to you to endure it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sahar Abdulla
  • 04-27-19

moving and touching, engaging a history and love.

loved it, the performance was very successful and emotional where it should. thanks Fiona 💚

6 people found this helpful

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  • Schlegel sister
  • 07-14-20

Didn’t move me

I really want to like this novel but I just can’t get inside it. The reading doesn’t help - very flat, only two voices for characters and very similar intonation, dodgy Arabic pronunciation. Occasionally things pick up when the politics/history starts happening, but I find this always peters out in the characters’ lack of personality. [SPOILER: not even the gun smuggling nuns are exciting!]

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  • bookylady
  • 06-02-20

Full of detail but overly long

This is an accomplished first novel and deserves praise for its beautiful prose and careful plotting. But it was far too long in my opinion and would have benefitted from some skilful editing. The first section in particular could have been much shorter with no overall dilution of the backstory. That first section could almost have been a novel in itself. The Parisian of the title is a young Palestinian man who is sent by his merchant father to Istanbul and then to France for a gentleman’s education. In France he meets a young woman who becomes his first and perhaps greatest love. But she spurns him and he flees to Paris where he becomes involved in Middle Eastern politics at a time (post First World War) when Britain and France are seeking to carve up the region between them. On his return to Palestine his father forces him to make life choices which puzzle him; he marries a local girl from a wealthy, well-respected family and joins his father’s business. But during the ensuing years life deals him many a bad card and he discovers his father has betrayed him on more than one occasion. Ultimately this leads to a complete collapse in his life at a time when friends and family are also becoming involved in the armed struggle against the British Empire. When his closest cousin is killed he discovers that a French priest, whom he considered a friend, has also betrayed him. This story is packed with interesting detail, almost too much detail, and this contributed to the novel being overly long. The narration was pleasant and easy to listen to.

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  • annie
  • 05-08-20

An accomplished first novel

This novel was written in a style reminiscent of 19th century French realist writers: massive attention to realistic detail and just occasionally a little too informative. It is the story of a young bourgeois Palestinian's experiences in France and how these experiences colour the rest of his life.The book spans twenty years and is set iinitially in Paris and later in Nablus against the backdrop of the Palestinian struggle for independence. Any-one interested in the history of Palestine under the Ottomans and the beginnings of Zionism will find the historic detail interesting even if Hammad does occasionally veer off at a tangent to include historical events. Regrettably the narration when the novel moved to Nablus was problematic for me. Fiona Button has a lovely French accent and she reads English with emotion and warmth but her pronunciation of even the names of characters and simple greetings in Arabic was excrutiatingly bad ,to such an extent that I lost the thread of the story on a couple of occasions. It is unforgivable not to be able to pronounce Ahmed, Faisal or Mahmoud correctly, or to call a male character Adèle (Adel). Perhaps it might have been better to use a narrator with a knowledge of Arabic as the dialogue is peppered with Arabic phrases? This is a long novel, and should possibly have been pruned a little by the editor, but it was definitely worth my time.

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  • Soapsoane
  • 09-09-19

Hooray for dialectical texturing of our oast

Brilliant, beautiful hopeful and inspiring: let there be as many Parisians as there are countries in our unexplored world! Yay!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Nadine
  • 08-11-19

Yawn

So slow. Went on and on and on. I enjoyed some small parts but really found it hard to focus and not drift off.