WINNER OF THE PRESIGIOUS ETISALAT AWARD
AN ADVENTURE-FILLED HISTORICAL-FOLKLORIC NOVEL ABOUT A PALESTINIAN GIRL WHO DEVELOPS GREAT HEALING SKILLS AND TRAVELS AROUND THE REGION, SOMETIMES DRESSED AS A MAN
Sonia Nimr’s award-winning Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands is a richly imagined feminist-fable-plus-historical-novel that tells an episodic travel narrative, like that of the great 14th century Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta, through the eyes of a clever and irrepressible young Palestinian woman.
The story begins hundreds of years ago, when our hero—Qamr—is born as an outcast, at the foot of a mountain in Palestine, near her father’s strange, isolated village. Qamr’s mother must solve the mystery of why only boys are born in this odd, conservative village. Then, in 1001 Nights style, this tale moves into another. Qamr’s parents die and a prince with many wives wants to marry her. Qamr takes her favorite book, Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands, and flees through Gaza, to Egypt, where she is captured, enslaved, and sold to the sister of the mad king in Egypt. After escaping, she flees to study with a polymath in Morocco. But when it’s discovered she’s a girl, she must leave again, disguising herself as a boy pirate to sail the Mediterranean. Through all her fast-paced battles, mysteries, and adventures, Qamr never finds a home, but she does manage to create a family.
Sonia Nimr is a leading Palestinian author and storyteller who weaves together contemporary stories with folklore for readers of all ages. She won the prestigious 2014 Etisalat Award, and was also shortlisted for the prize for Thunderbird, the first title in a fantasy trilogy. She is also the author of two books in English: Ghaddar the Ghoul and Other Palestinian Stories and A Little Piece of Ground (co-written with Elizabeth Laird).
MARCIA LYNX QUALEY is a writer and editor who founded ArabLit and ArabLit Quarterly. She cohosts the BULAQ podcast and has co-translated the co-written Ghady & Rawan (2019).