Raja Alem and Tom McDonough
A daring work of cultural experimentation, steeped in the great legends of Arabia.
The distinguished Middle Eastern author Raja Alem grew up in Mecca at a time when the holy city was on the cusp of transformation from medieval to modern. In this vanished Mecca, vividly brought to life again in My Thousand and One Nights, women hold center stage—especially Jummo, the wildly passionate daughter of the Water Carriers’ Sheik.
This faraway time and setting become compellingly real through the intimate drama of Jummo’s life, the tragic arc of her affair with her childhood sweetheart and her lifelong love for the mysterious Sidi Wadhana, a more-than-human emissary from the Netherworld.
Jummo’s world, veiled and invisible to outsiders until this telling of her story, has the feel of the true center of an Arabia that has come to us in many exotic and threatening guises. Jummo’s Mecca is a different world, with different narrative strategies, but her dramatic problems are universal: how lethal is love, how dangerous is woman? And how sensual is the yearning for immortality?
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Raja Alem, one of the most highly regarded writers in contemporary Arabic literature, is the author of seven novels, as well as plays and poetry. She lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Tom McDonough is the author of the novel, Virgin with Child, and a story collection, Light Years. His cinematography won an Academy Award for the feature documentary, Best Boy. Raja and Tom’s first collaborative work was Fatma, also published by Syracuse University Press.
6 1/8 x 9 1/4, 272 pages