The Bride of Amman, a huge and controversial bestseller when first published in Arabic, takes a sharp-eyed look at the intersecting lives of four women and one gay man in Jordan’s historic capital, Amman—a city deeply imbued with its nation’s traditions and taboos. When Rana finds herself not only falling for a man of the wrong faith, but also getting into trouble with him, where can they go to escape? Can Hayat’s secret liaisons really suppress the memories of her abusive father? When Ali is pressured by society’s homophobia into a fake heterosexual marriage, how long can he maintain the illusion? And when spinsterhood and divorce spell social catastrophe, is living a lie truly the best option for Leila? What must she do to avoid reaching her ‘expiry date’ at the age thirty like her sister Salma, Jordan’s secret blogger and a self-confessed spinster with a plot up her sleeve to defy her city’s prejudices? These five young lives come together and come apart in ways that are distinctly modern yet as unique and timeless as Amman itself.
Publication date: July 21, 2015
Print edition: 5″ x 8″ perfect bound trade paperback
Page count: 250
Price (paper): US$17.95
E-book formats: ePub, Kindle, PDF
Word count: 53,000
Price (e-book): US$7.99
- Audible (Narrated by: Mehrnaz Mohammadi, Ariana Delawari, Lara Sawalha, Dalia Ramahi, Vikas Adam; Length: 5 hrs and 37 mins)
- Arabic Literature (in Engish) – ArabLit.Org
- The Arab Observer
- Words Without Borders
- Susan Blumberg-Kason
It is extremely honest of Fadi Zaghmout to lift the darkest and heaviest curtain on his society. The Bride of Amman tells of a society infested with taboos. In revealing the stories of women and men alike, and by capturing their thoughts and highlighting their tragedies whilst growing into adulthood, we learn to appreciate their sacrifices and share their struggles in an impressive bid for freedom. A very courageous debut.
– Hanan Al-Shaykh, author of Women of Sand and Myrrh, The Story of Zahra, and One Thousand and One Nights
Think Sex and the Citadel meets Ramadan soap: The Bride of Amman is a dramatic portrait of young men and women looking for love in a time of taboo. An insightful and impassioned account of the high cost of social conformity—in and out of the bedroom.
– Shereen El Feki, author of Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World.
Fadi Zaghmout engages the full range of human emotion as he confronts head-on the destructive, corrosive effects of prejudice, tradition, and male privilege on sexuality, sexual expression, and gender identity. Charged, dynamic, and engaging, The Bride of Amman is sure to disturb and please—and to remain with readers long after they’ve finished Zaghmout’s compelling narrative of four lives desperate for liberation.
– Matthew Weinart, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Political Science & International Relations Department, University of Delaware.
- In this book, Fadi Zaghmout beautifully criticizes the values of the Arab society, smoothly switches between ridiculing our most sacred traditions and exposing the devastating effects that they can have on our lives. We laugh and we cry but at the end we can’t but feel comforted that he managed to express what we all think and feel, ourselves.
– George Azzi, gender and sexual rights activist, co-founder of AFE and Helem
- A powerful narrative, an intricate braid of secrets, exposing Jordanian society’s hypocrisy and obsession with the institution of marriage. Its pioneering feminist vision is a bid for tolerance, equality, and freedom. A compulsive read.
– Fadia Faqir, author of Willow Trees Don’t Weep
- The Bride of Amman is unputdownable and a rattlingly significant read. Fadi Zaghmout creates a wonderfully distinctive polyphonic narrative of the characters’ selves trying to engage with the world around them to act or to make choices. While the novel voices the marginalization and disempowerment of its characters struggling to fit in a culturally conditioned and constructed subjective identity, it neatly weaves the narrative of its characters negotiating an active role within society’s power dynamics. A must-read novel to understand how subjective identity and culture shape one another.
– Wafa Alkhadra, Professor at American University of Madaba, Jordan
- In The Bride of Amman, Fadi Zaghmout has written what I consider is one of the first Jordanian novels to challenge the taboos of gender exploration. Incredibly and skilfully, he manages to move us across that invisible line without anger, challenge, attitude, or negativity. He holds our hand and softly encourages us to explore new worlds within our familiar surroundings. A must read!
– Nermeen Murad, Chief of Party of USAID Takamol Gender Program; writer, columnist, gender-, and human-rights advocate
- It is a brave book that weaves together lives that are in conflict with the diktats of religious, patriarchal, and societal mores—the three hegemonies that submerge and suffocate truthful expressions of gender and sexuality. The personal accounts are chilling, and I find a lot of resonance with similar issues faced by women and gay men in India. The book also offers hope that challenges can be overcome and life can be lived on one’s own terms within the matrix of our societies. The simplicity of the truthful writing, and the complexity of the emotions the characters undergo, takes the reader on a roller-coaster journey that is thought-provoking and invigorating. More power to Fadi and the book, and for empowerment of women and the LGBT community, world-over.
– Sridhar Rangayan, filmmaker and activist, Mumbai, India
- The Bride of Amman evoked in my heart a longing for freedom. A bold and painful novel, it tells the stories of women I recognise, and I can see myself in them—I could have been one of them.
– Saba Mubarak, Jordanian actress and producer
- Gender, sex, and sexuality: the unspoken issues in Arab societies are addressed creatively and sensitively in a novel that embraces all walks of life. Every Arab woman should read this book to gain more insight into empowerment of gender, feminism, and sexuality. Every Arab man should read this book to get a glimpse of what Arab women endure under male domination—and how their mothers, sisters, and homosexual brothers have had it tough.
– Madian Al Jazerah, owner of books@cafe, Amman, Jordan
- Nadia Muhanna
- My Kali Mag
- Madhouse Family Reviews
- A Discount Ticket to Everywhere, Interview with Ruth
- The Jordan Times
- Safia Moore and Sawad Hussain
- Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
- The National
Fadi Zaghmout is a social-media specialist, blogger, and author. His first novel The Bride of Amman was published in the Arabic language in Jordan in January 2012, addressing issues of gender and sexuality in the city of Amman. His second novel, Heaven on Earth, was published in November 2014; it is a work of speculative fiction that posits a near future where science defeats ageing. Fadi holds an MA in Creative Writing and Critical Thinking from the University of Sussex in the UK. He has been an active blogger since 2006 and has a Twitter following of around 370,000. thearabobserver.wordpress.com | twitter.com/fadizaghmout
Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp is a British literary translator of Arabic, German, and Russian fiction and non-fiction. She is the co-translator of Samar Yazbek’s The Crossing and has translated plays from Russia, Syria, and Lebanon, and several Arabic short stories and children’s books.
9 Nov 2015 – The Suffolk Anthology bookshop, Cheltenham
10 Nov 2015 – The Arts House Café, Bristol
12 Nov 2015 – Gay’s the Word Bookshop, London – with Brian Whitaker
13 Nov 2015 – Waterstones, Brighton – with Brian Whitaker