States of Passion
Author: Nihad Sirees
Translator: Max Weiss
Original language: Arabic
Published by: Pushkin Press, September 2018
A hapless Aleppo bureaucrat is stranded in the middle of the deserted countryside as a violent storm sets in. When he seeks refuge in an isolated old mansion, inhabited by an aged gentleman and his sinister servant, he begins to uncover a captivating tale of family secrets, lost passions, and shady dealings.
He is transported by these stories to Aleppo's golden age - a time of art, music, wealth and laughter - and the all-female society of the banat al-ishreh, a society of women who live, love, and perform song and dance together. And as he gradually realises how these entanglements of love and passion, cruelty and resentment, stretch across the generations, he discovers that his own life is also in danger.
Sirees spins astonishing literary beauty out of this tangled web of family secrets, and he writes with great humour and warmth about the conflict between past and present in this surprising and unique novel about a lost world.