Flying Carpets by Hedy Habra contains some of the finest short fiction I’ve read, a genre of which I am most selective when it comes to favorites and I don’t read often, yet these stories invite the reader in with glimmering prose poetry and curiosity about the many facets of everyday life, stories grounded in logic, and as the stories progress in the book, dream scenes that shimmer, sometimes darkly, will be presented, the author’s pen light upon the page to let the stories fully unfold for the reader. The stories’ meanings can be very deep and profound, yet are told with the tone and relatability of a storyteller sitting right in the room, immersing the listeners with polished, yet personable tales.
This book would most likely appeal to readers who enjoy short fiction told with familiarity and with settings in Egypt and Lebanon, with mention of natural, solitary places, such as in the mountains, with domestic and wild animals, inside the home, and on the streets and markets of Cairo and Beirut.
Some of my favorites include “The Green Book,” “By Fire or Water,” “Anenome’s Fingers,” and “Noor Al Qamar.” “Anenome’s Fingers” reminded me of similar sympathies in the poem ‘To The Aquarium‘ by the Romantic era Lebanese author, May Ziadeh (who also lived in Egypt as Hedy Habra had) from her first book of poetry in French, Flowers of a Dream (1911).
Because of the deep intrigue of the book, I’d usually choose to read a single story at a time as a lot is conveyed in each one and the stories may settle upon the reader afterwards as meditation.
A consistency of sympathetic women protagonists ties them all together well, but not too, too tightly, as there are contrasting protagonists, characters, and questions that allow readers to consider what these situations might mean for their own lives and perceptions of humanity and the world. These are deep stories, with such great, clever humor, and I am glad to have traveled awhile within them.
Visit the author’s site: hedyhabra.com
Previously on the blog this week: The Lost Girl 📕