Hanan al-Shaikh

(1945 - )

Born in
Beirut, Hanan al-Shaikh attended a traditional Muslim girls’ primary school and then the Ahliya School also in Beirut. She completed her studies at the American College for Girls in 1967 by which time she had written her first novel, Intihar Rajul Mayyat (The Suicide of a Dead Man). After graduating, Hanan returned to Beirut and worked as a journalist. Her four novels and collection of short stories were all written outside of Lebanon, yet Hanan is considered one of the Beirut Decentrists.

Her novel, “The Story of Zahra”, describes the story of an unattractive, overweight Shiite girl living during the Lebanese civil war. The author describes the young girl’s incapability in dealing with war and a male dominated society. Another novel “Women of Sand and Myrrh” takes place in the Arabian Gulf. It exposes the confusion of morality in a country where everything is forbidden, and for the same reason, everything occurs.

Her writings are very deep. She reveals the inner-workings of her protagonists through stream of consciousness writing. She is candid in her descriptions of sexual realities to show women’s struggle for love. Her latest Novel is “The Sea of Darkness”.

Her novels have been translated into English, Polish, Spanish, and French.

She has lived in Lebanon,
Egypt, Saudi Arabia and now lives in London.