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Isabella Hammad (UK-PS)

Portrait of the author Isabella Hammad
Photo: Kathy Coulter.

The British-Palestinian author Isabella Hammad has recently published her second novel Enter Ghost, about the actress Sonia, who, after living in London for many years, goes to Haifa to visit her sister. The encounter with her homeland is both familiar and alienating, and when Sonia meets a local theater director, she joins a production of Hamlet in the West Bank. Soon, she's rehearsing lines in Arabic, and as the premiere approaches, the war intensifies more and more, and Sonia glimpses the opportunity to rediscover herself in her homeland.

With her two novels, Hammad is already known for her grand, epic narratives revolving around Palestine both past and present. Her debut novel, The Parisian, is based on her great-grandfather's life and tells the story of Midhat Kamal from Nablus in Palestine, who travels to France in a futile attempt to find himself. Before returning home, he falls in love with a young French woman and confronts the realization that freedom and equality are illusions in the colonized world order.

Big themes such as peace, love, hope, light and darkness, and the human quest for a place to belong are at play in Isabella Hammad's writing. She has been awarded the Palestine Book Award and the Plimpton Prize for Fiction for her novels, and is currently longlisted for Women’s Prize for Fiction for Enter Ghost.

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