Mina Simpson, a Lebanese doctor, arrives at the infamous Moria refugee camp on Lesbos, Greece, after being urgently summoned for help by her friend who runs an NGO there. Alienated from her family except for her beloved brother, Mina has avoided being so close to her homeland for decades. But with a week off work and apart from her wife of thirty years, Mina hopes to accomplish something meaningful, among the abundance of Western volunteers who pose for selfies with beached dinghies and the camp’s children. Soon, a boat crosses bringing Sumaiya, a fiercely resolute Syrian matriarch with terminal liver cancer. Determined to protect her children and husband at all costs, Sumaiya refuses to alert her family to her diagnosis. Bonded together by Sumaiya’s secret, a deep connection sparks between the two women, and as Mina prepares a course of treatment with the limited resources on hand, she confronts the circumstances of the migrants’ displacement, as well as her own constraints in helping them.
Not since the inimitable Aaliya of An Unnecessary Woman has Rabih Alameddine conjured such a winsome heroine to lead us to one of the most wrenching conflicts of our time. Cunningly weaving in stories of other refugees into Mina’s singular own,The Wrong End of the Telescope is a bedazzling tapestry of both tragic and amusing portraits of indomitable spirits facing a humanitarian crisis.
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Rabih Alameddine is the author of the novels The Angel of History; An Unnecessary Woman; The Hakawati; I, the Divine; Koolaids; and the story collection, The Perv. In 2019, he won the Dos Passos Prize.
Alameddine will be in conversation with Aminatta Forna, the author of the novels Ancestor Stones, The Memory of Love, The Hired Man, and Happiness, as well as the essay collection The Window Seat and memoir The Devil That Danced on the Water. Forna’s books have been translated into twenty two languages. Her essays have appeared in Brick, Freeman’s, Granta, The Guardian, Kenyon Review, Literary Hub, The New York Review of Books Daily, The Observer, and Vogue. She is currently Director and Lannan Foundation Chair of Poetics at Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice at Georgetown University.
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