Iman Humaidan

Iman Humaidan Younes was born in Ain Enoub, in the Druze section of the Lebanese mountains, in 1956. From a liberal family, she studied Sociology at the American University of Beirut and in 1989 started to work as a freelance journalist, focusing above all on cultural and social issues, as well as human and women’s rights. She wrote surveys on environmental and developmental issues in postwar Lebanon, and, as a sideline, published short stories in the cultural pages of daily Arab newspapers such as »Mulhak Annahar«, »Assafir« and in women’s magazines such as »Alhasnaa« and »Sayidati«.
Even her first novel, »Ba’ mithl bait mithl Bairut« (1997; t: B like Beirut) initially emerged in the form of short prose pieces, memories and sketches written as an immediate response to the realities of postwar Lebanon, and only later reworked conceptually. The novel – divided into four parts narrated from the perspectives of four strong and simple women – tells of the horror of the civil war and Lebanon’s modern, multicultural society. Pugnacious yet not heroic, these women suffer violence and loss without accepting either. Through a tranquil, poetic rhythm, Humaidan finds her own voice within her country’s contemporary literature.
Her second novel, »Toot Barri« (t: Wild mulberries), focuses on a search for identity parallel to the nascent modernisation of Lebanese society in the first half of the twentieth century. Located in a village similar to the author’s own native home, a young Druze woman is shown growing up, reacting to the out-dated and redundant way of life at her father’s homestead with a nostalgic longing for her missing mother. Through sensuous language and detailed scenes and dialogue, Humaidan creates an otherworldly cosmos populated by frustrated people, such as the incompetent, braggart father, the bigoted, quarrelsome aunt and the good-for-nothing older brother. In the end it is only the young woman who manages to take her life into her own hands. Following marriage and a period spent living in England, her symbolic search for her mother loses its significance, and back in her village she gives birth to a daughter. On the occasion of the Arabic focus at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the novel was translated into German and will be published in French in late 2006.
Iman Humaidan lives in Beirut and has recently completed a Master’s degree in Anthropology at the American University Beirut with a study on »The narratives of the families of the disappeared in Lebanon during the Lebanese civil war (1975- 1990)«. She lives in Beirut where she is working on her third novel, set to appear in 2007.

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