REVIEW by Willard Manus
Thanks to the Middle East Literature in Translation program at Syracuse University Press we are able to read works from countries like Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon. The latter country is represented by CANCELED MEMORIES by Nazik Saba Yared (translated from the Arabic by Nadine Sinno). Set in Beirut during the Lebanese civil war, the novel centers on Huda Al-Muhktar, a middle-class woman struggling to maintain her identity in the face of ferocious opposition from her own family.
Huda, a university professor, considered herself happily married to an emancipated man. But that illusion was shattered when Sharif, a civil servant, accused her of being unfaithful (all because he saw another man put his hand on her shoulder). The rigidity of his patriarchal (and Muslim) mind-set did not allow for any discussion. He divorces her and takes custody of their teenaged daughter Dina (again, the laws and mores of Lebanese society are heavily slanted in favor of the male).
point on Huda must fight desperately to keep from losing all ties to her
daughter. Its a bitter and lonely fight; few friends or family members
take her side; and the ongoing, bloody civil war constantly intrudes on
her life, threatens to drive her mad.