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Life Style: Model Gigi Hadid celebrates daughter Khai’s birthday

CHICAGO: From award-winning author and journalist, Joumana Haddad, comes a story overflowing with history, identity and conflict in “The Book of Queens.” From the end of the 19th century, the novel moves across four generations of women Qayah, Qana, Qadar, and Qamar. They have suffered and survived expulsion, occupation, civil war, and sectarian violence that moves them to Turkey, Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon. From Qayah to Qamar, each woman has forged her path through war zones and survived, despite the overwhelming loss they each have encountered.

Haddad’s novel begins with the birth of Qayah Sarrafian in 1912. Born in Aintab, southeastern Turkey to Marine and Nazar, she has witnessed one tragedy after another before she turns eight. Despite being forced to marry a man, having to live with a mother-in-law who wants to diminish her Armenian heritage, and a society that wants to make her feel unworthy for being the daughter of a seamstress, she lives as best as she can. Her troubles begin with her family’s expulsion from Aintab by Turkish forces.

 Qayah’s trauma and suffering is inadvertently inherited by her daughter, Qana, whose own ordeals add to the foundation of devastation her mother has faced. Born in Deir Yassin, Palestine, in 1946, Qana finds herself in a loveless relationship, with a child who does not love her either. Her family is forced to live through another expulsion when the Israelis occupy Palestinian land and they must flee. In Beirut, she tries to make a life, and that is where her daughter, Qadar, grows up. Qadar is equally unsatisfied with her life and moves to Aleppo during the civil war in Lebanon. She is neglectful of her own daughter Qamar, who at 17 ends up in a Turkish refugee camp after fleeing war in Syria.

Haddad does not shy away from the devastating consequences of political and religious violence. She allows readers an intimate look into a family who has been forced to flee for over a century, vehemently refusing to be victims that politicians around the region want them to be. Haddad’s novel is haunting but historically rich with characters who do not cower in the face of adversity.

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