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Author Conversation: Emily Robbins & Rula Quawas

April 4, 2017 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

A mesmerizing debut set in Syria on the cusp of unrest, A Word for Love is the story of a young American woman transformed by language, risk, war, and a startling new understanding of love. It is said there are ninety-nine Arabic words for love. Bea, an American exchange student, has learned them all. Bea travels to a Middle Eastern country known to hold the “The Astonishing Text,” an ancient, original manuscript of a famous Arabic love story that is said to move its best readers to tears. But once she arrives in Syria, Bea finds that instead of intensely reading Arabic she is entwined in her host family’s lives. Suddenly, instead of the ancient love story she sought, it is the contemporary Romeo-and-Juliet-like romance–between a housemaid and policeman of different cultural and political backgrounds–that astonishes her, changes her, and makes her weep. But as the country speeds toward unrest, Bea wonders how many secrets she can keep, and how long she can fight for a romance that does not belong to her.

Emily Robbins has lived and worked across the Middle East and North Africa. From 2007 to 2008, she was a Fulbright Fellow in Syria, where she studied religion and language with a women’s mosque movement and lived with the family of a leading intellectual. Robbins holds an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis, and in 2016 she received a second Fulbright to study in Jordan. Her writing on Syria has appeared in Lit Hub and The New York Times. A Word for Love is her first novel.

Rula Quawas is a professor of American literature and feminist theory at the University of Jordan. She was the founding Director of the Women’s Studies Center at the university in 2006, and she was also the Dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages in 2011. Rula’s research focuses on feminist readings of American and Arabic texts written by women writers. She has published numerous essays and book chapters on American and Arab women writers. Her books include From the Speaking Womb of the Desert: Stories from Jordan (2013), Intercultural Communication: Unity in Diversity (2013), Crossing Borders: A Narrative Journey into the Middle Eastern World (2015), and The Voice of Being Enough: Young Jordanian Women Break Through without Breaking Down (2016).


April 4, 2017
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
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