Today I have a review of Mama Hissa’s Mice by Saud Alsanousi, available from Amazon Crossing on November 12, 2019. A big thank you to Megan Beatie and the publisher for sending me a beautiful copy.
Mama Hissa’s Mice was a banned book in Kuwait, where the book is set, for over four years.
Katkout, Fahd, and Sadiq are the best of friends while growing up in central Kuwait. Though friends, they are of different religions and ethnicities.
What joins them beyond their friendship is their desire to protest against the divide causing their neighborhood to become a war zone. In turn, the friends are found to be extremists.
Fahd’s grandmother, Mama Hissa, is wary that the friends could anger God with their beliefs and actions. Mama Hissa is quite the cmemorable character with her knowledge of superstition and pious storytelling.
Mama Hissa’s Mice is a story that unexpectedly captivated me and grabbed hold of my heart. I knew little of Kuwait’s history and even less about day-to-day life there.
Even in translation, the writing is beautiful and engaging. The characters are lovable and complex. Overall, Mama Hissa’s Mice brings out all the emotions while reading. It’s a powerful story of friendship and unequivocal hope even in the most dire of circumstances.
I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
About the Book:
From the author of The Bamboo Stalk and winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction comes an apocalyptic and caustically funny novel about the power of friendship in a war-torn world.
Growing up together in the Surra section of central Kuwait, Katkout, Fahd, and Sadiq share neither ethnic origin nor religious denomination—only friendship and a rage against the unconscionable sectarian divide turning their lives into war-zone rubble. To lay bare the ugly truths, they form the protest group Fuada’s Kids. Their righteous transgressions have made them targets of both Sunni and Shi’a extremists. They’ve also elicited the concern of Fahd’s grandmother, Mama Hissa, a story-spinning font of piety, wisdom, superstition, and dire warnings, who cautions them that should they anger God, the sky will surely fall.
Then one day, after an attack on his neighborhood leaves him injured, Katkout regains consciousness. His friends are nowhere to be found. Inundated with memories of his past, Katkout begins a search for them in a world that has become unrecognizable but not forsaken.
Snaking through decades of Kuwaiti history well into a cataclysmic twenty-first century, Mama Hissa’s Mice is a harrowing, emotional, and caustic novel of rebellion. It also speaks to the universal struggle of finding one’s identity and a reason to go on, even after the sky has fallen.
Have you read Mama Hissa’s Mice, or is it on your TBR? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR