Author Sonia Nimr’s ‘Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands’ explores a life of discovery

Author Sonia Nimr’s ‘Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands’ explores a life of discovery
“Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands” is by Sonia Nimr. (Supplied)
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Updated 27 December 2020

Author Sonia Nimr’s ‘Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands’ explores a life of discovery

Author Sonia Nimr’s ‘Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands’ explores a life of discovery

CHICAGO: From the foothills of a mountain in Palestine to the shores of Tangier comes a story about an explorer named Qamar whose life is dedicated to discovery in Sonia Nimr’s “Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands.” In this extraordinary tale, translated by Marcia Lynx Qualey, Qamar follows her desire to see the world, much like the greatest explorer in the Muslim world, Ibn Battuta. Qamar discovers that life’s paths are winding and arduous but it is from those paths, if she can survive them, that the greatest lessons are learned.

A story that begins in a glass jar in Tangier finds its roots in Palestine where twin girls, Shams and Qamar, are born. Their lives begin as strangely as their futures take shape, in a village that has been cursed, no less, by the girls’ father. Surrounded by the books that their mother has inherited as the daughter of a bookshop owner, Qamar and Shams have no friends to play with but the pages in their library. Through the books, they live adventures, but none that can prepare Qamar for the life she is about to have.

To escape the bleak accursed life and the heavy patriarchy that clouds the village, Qamar decides on adventure as she heads for Jerusalem, then Gaza, and from there to Egypt. From highway robbers to princesses in grand palaces to pirates that sail over the seas, Qamar’s life takes many twists and turns in this four-part adventure. Nimr’s novel is fast-paced and exhilarating as Qamar’s stories, much like Shahrazad’s, keep her alive and ready for each day to come.

Sending out Qamar with one single book in her hand, a book she loses and finds multiple times throughout her journey, Nimr’s contemporary folklore ignites a sense of history and exploration in its readers.

With joy and tragedy, and the outcomes that are in turn expected and surprising, at the heart of Nimr’s story is the journey that Qamar must take to make her the woman she is meant to be.


COVID-19 kills men’s fashion buzz in Milan

COVID-19 kills men’s fashion buzz in Milan
Updated 15 January 2021

COVID-19 kills men’s fashion buzz in Milan

COVID-19 kills men’s fashion buzz in Milan

MILAN: A year after the last COVID-free catwalk shows in Milan, men’s fashion week begins on Friday, but without the buzz of its traditional audience of buyers, bloggers, celebrities and media.

As the pandemic continues to upend Italy’s crucial luxury sector nearly 12 months after it first swept through the country, fashion houses have turned to technology to showcase their fall/winter 2021-22 collections.

Shows will be broadcast live on the fashion houses’ own websites or be replaced with pre-recorded presentations, short films and other artistic projects. Others such as Dolce & Gabbana have withdrawn entirely.

The four-day men’s fashion event takes place with infections rising in Italy’s Lombardy region with a return a full lockdown possible as early as the weekend.

Lombardy, whose capital is Milan, is one of five in Italy classified “orange” by the government, which means that stores and most schools are closed, while a curfew remains in force at night.

Among those opting for live shows to be broadcast by the fashion houses are Fendi, Etro and Kway.

Most other brands, however, including Ermenegildo Zegna, Tod’s, Prada and Church’s, have opted for pre-records – choices that allow for creative freedom but lack the immediacy and drama of live shows.

Dolce & Gabbana, which was originally scheduled to offer a traditional runway show on January 16, announced on Monday its decision to pull out entirely.

In view of COVID-19, it said, “the conditions essential to the realisation of our fashion show are not met.”

For the moment, no digital presentation is planned.