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A Novel

Thérèse Soukar Chehade

Paper $19.95    |    978-0-8156-0982-7    |    2010

"Thérèse Soukar Chehade’s finely rendered first novel uses the Lebanese Civil War as the background to her story of a Maronite Christian immigrant family....The seven haunted voices that narrate Loom, create an overlapping narrative of loss and frustrated desires, of dreams deferred and revisited."
American Book Review

"An expansive and beautiful new storyteller, Chehade tightly binds personal experience with the universal desire to belong, effortlessly weaving a dense tapestry of loneliness and regret."
Publisher’s Weekly starred review

"A thoroughly original story that lingered with me long after reading it."
—Laila Halaby, best-selling author of West of the Jordan

"In Loom Lebanon and North America flare to life, illuminating each other. With a wonderfully assured touch Chehade weaves the pain and joy of familial bonds around stories of war and migration. A beautiful novel."
—Kamila Shamsie, author of Burnt Shadows: A Novel

As a blizzard blankets the northeast United States, burying residents and shutting down airports, the Zaydan family eagerly awaits the arrival of Eva, a cousin visiting from Lebanon after a long separation from the family. Over the course of several days, while Eva is stranded in New York City, Chehade’s nuanced story unfolds in the reminiscences and anxieties of each family member.

Emilie, the matriarch of this Lebanese American family, lives in a world of voluntary silence. Barely able to read and write in English and refusing to speak for the last several years, she immerses herself in her garden and leaves elaborately cooked meals anonymously for her solitary neighbor. Emilie’s oldest daughter Josephine, middle aged and still living with her mother and married brother, struggles to regain the independence and confidence she had as a young girl in Lebanon. Young Marie, stifled by her conservative family, is determined to study at Berkeley and to leave behind her immigrant identity. All three are drawn to their mysterious neighbor, nicknamed Loom, whose loneliness and isolation mirror their own and kindle within each woman a desire to make a connection. When Emilie takes off during the blizzard in the direction of Loom’s house and the rest of the family follows in her pursuit, their act is both an escape and a reaching out. Beautifully written and teeming with vivid portraits, Chehade’s novel is both heartfelt and wise.

View other books in the Arab American Writing series

Thérèse Soukar Chehade teaches English as a Second Language to elementary school students in Amherst, Massachusetts. This is her first novel.

6 x 9, 168 pages


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