The Occasional Virgin by Hanan al-Shaykh
A Novel

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The novel shows some early promise – a discussion of their displacement from Lebanon is illuminating, and contrasts are set up between the friends’ faiths - but sadly this is not explored with any degree of depth. Instead, indirect inner monologues create flat and binary characters...
-Guardian

Synopsis

In this frank and fearless novel, acclaimed writer Hanan al-Shaykh follows the tumultuous lives and sometimes shocking choices of women successful in their careers but unlucky in love.
 
On a sunny beach on the Italian Riviera, two thirtysomething women, Yvonne and Huda, relax by the sparkling sea. But despite the setting, as their vacation unfolds, their complicated pasts seep through to the idyllic present. Both women spent their childhoods in Lebanon—Yvonne raised in a Christian family, Huda in a Muslim one—and they now find themselves torn between the traditional worlds they were born into and the successful professional identities they’ve created.
 
Three months later, when Huda (a theater director from Toronto) visits Yvonne (an advertising executive) in London, a chance encounter with a man at Speaker’s Corner leads to profound repercussions for them both. As the novel continues, each woman will undertake her own quest for love and romance, revenge and fulfillment. Witty and wry, The Occasional Virgin is a poignant and perceptive tale for our time.
 

About Hanan al-Shaykh

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Hanan al-Shaykh, an award-winning journalist, novelist, and playwright, is the author of the short story collection I Sweep the Sun off Rooftops; the novels The Story of Zahra, Women of Sand and Myrrh, Beirut Blues, and Only in London; and a memoir about her mother, The Locust and the Bird. She was raised in Beirut, educated in Cairo, and lives in London.












Author Residence: London, England












Author Hometown: Beirut, Lebanon
 
Published July 10, 2018 by Pantheon. 240 pages
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Occasional Virgin
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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Arifa Akbar on Jun 27 2018

The novel shows some early promise – a discussion of their displacement from Lebanon is illuminating, and contrasts are set up between the friends’ faiths - but sadly this is not explored with any degree of depth. Instead, indirect inner monologues create flat and binary characters...

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