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This Arab Life: A Generation’s Journey into Silence Paperback – September 8, 2022

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Community development specialist and author Ghandour reflects on her life growing up amid the political tumult of the Middle East and her generation's response to it.
The author was born in Lebanon in 1962, but when she was only 5 months old, her family was compelled to flee the country for Jordan when her father, Ali, was sentenced to death by the Lebanese state for his alleged involvement in an attempted coup. She was raised in Amman and experienced a peculiar kind of stability in the wake of its civil war, which finally settled into an "ugly memory." Still, there were always paroxysms of unrest—so many, in fact, that they became nearly indistinguishable from the normal rhythms of life and led to a kind of acquiescent "atrophy," as the author puts it. Ghandour's experience was colored by her own privilege, which provided her family with a means of escape and her with an education in the United States that afforded her a taste of "unencumbered aliveness." However, the author also tells of being plagued by the "listlessness" of a generation that came of "political age" in the 1980s but had allowed itself to be silenced—a predicament that Ghandour affectingly portrays in these pages. Specifically, her account includes an astute interpretation of the uprisings that roiled the Arab world in 2011—the shock of their promise as well as their disappointments: "I don't know if my generation understood the meaning of what we saw...or if we knew, were at a loss about our options, and so decided to sell out." Over the course of this memoir, her prose is poetically precise and as sharp as her encounter with cultural and philosophical ambivalence permits. Overall, this is a disarmingly candid memoir in which Ghandour takes herself and her entire generation to task for the manner in which they may have been complicit in the Arab world's political failures. As such, it's a gripping remembrance and one that's as clear as it is dramatic.
An unflinching depiction of an author's complex international experiences.
Kirkus Reviews

"Unsparing of herself as 'informant,' in a book that is at once painful and a delight to read, Amal Ghandour probes the conscience and circumstances of a small but very influential section of Arab society. Stylish, witty, and heartbreaking, this is a unique and critical contribution to our current soul-searching."
—Ahdaf Soueif is a novelist, an essayist, and an activist
"Amal Ghandour has written a nostalgic book with glimmers of brilliant personal, social and political observations and probing about Jordan and Lebanon, about wars and longings, about a rich life of upheavals and laments."
—Raja Shehadeh, Palestinian writer and lawyer, and founder of the human rights organization
"This Arab Life is a sweeping retrospective on a generation's historic complicity in the present travails plaguing the Arab world. The book is, at once, intimate, far-reaching, political, angry, melancholic, funny, and nostalgic. Ghandour's reflections on her life, and on the decisions taken by her and her peers as they came of age in the eighties and nineties, offers important insight for anyone seeking to understand how we got to where we are today in the region. The book is a cautionary tale of political acquiescence, and one that is, like many Arabs, stuck between an urgent impulse to act, to change, to hope, alongside an overwhelming sense of despair and apathy." 
—Tareq Baconi, author of Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance 
and president of the board of al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network.

"The Arab world hasn't fallen into silence. It has descended, not unlike other parts of the globe, into a logorrhea of reflexive grumbling, vacuous politics, and hopeless nostalgia. Amal Ghandour's voice pierces through this noise: analytic, female, rebellious, acid yet soothing, if only because so much of the corrosion she describes is just begging for her brand of intellectual rust remover. Amal taunts the very elites she belongs to with questions few of the privileged ever ask themselves: Wealth aside, what is our worth? Who are we, as an elite, if we do little more than indulge and free-ride? Her own answers rise from a unique blend of acute insights, touching vignettes, and downright introspection, all caught up in the region's traumatic historical arc, and bound together by Amal's ever so tight, elegant style."
—Peter Harling, founder of Synaps, a public interest research Institute

About the Author

Amal Ghandour's career spans more than three decades in the fields of research, communication, and community development. She is the author of About This Man Called Ali. Ghandour holds an MS in International Policy from Stanford University.
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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Bold Story Press (September 8, 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 168 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1954805268
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1954805262
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 7.8 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.5 x 0.42 x 8.5 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    5.0 out of 5 stars 8 ratings

About the author

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Amal Ghandour is a Lebanese-Jordanian author and blogger (Thinking Fits), with a career that spans more than three decades in the fields of research, communication, and community development. Her book, About This Man Called Ali (2009), was named the first biography of a modern Arab artist by the renowned Historian Philip Mansel.

Ghandour describes her new book, This Arab Life, A Generation’s Journey Into Silence (October 11, 2022), “as a memoir that is not of an individual but of the generation that came of political age in the 1980s in the Levant.” This Arab Life, she adds, “is an intimate rendition of the times that shaped us; the way we internalized our parents’ myriad dejections and disappointments; the pragmatism and silence that defined us; and the dispiriting inheritance we inexorably bequeathed our own children.”

In 2009, Ghandour became Senior Advisor to Ruwwad al Tanmeya, a regional community development initiative. She sits on the Board of Trustees of International College (IC), and on the Board of Directors of Synaps. She also served as Special Adviser to Columbia University’s Global Centers, Middle East (2014-2017), and on the Board of Directors of The Arab Human Rights Fund (2011-2014).

Ghandour holds an MS in International Policy from Stanford University and a BSFS from Georgetown University.

Among her works: Aeon, The Daily Beast, Washington Independent Review of Books, Midanmasr, Canvas.

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