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...Balconies

Mishka Mojabber Mourani is a Levantine: a citizen of the eastern Mediterranean who speaks five languages and who was born in Egypt of Greek and Lebanese parents. In her Balconies: A Mediterranean Memoir she explores the themes of war, exile, identity, heritage and multicultural identities.  It is a memoir rendered in the form of collages of photos, letters, fiction and reportage.

At the mercy of the political upheavals that unnerve her world, she recounts her experiences as a child and then an adult, relocating to Beirut from Egypt and later emigrating to Australia, only to return to Lebanon just as the embers of war were being fanned.  As a survivor of a fifteen-year war that devastated her beloved Beirut, Mojabber Mourani derived purpose and optimism from her work as an educator at International College.

Throughout the book, she also celebrates life, resilience, and hope in the face of adversity and instability. She explores the theme of family and the significance of a Mediterranean heritage. She tells her stories because they need to be told, and because they need to be passed on, documenting the process of identity formation and the choices that her multiculturalism impose on her as events change her life.

Balconies also explores cultural and gender issues and observes the interactions between the urban landscapes and political climate of the cities she has lived in. The various vignettes and observations in the book are held together by the unifying thread of balconies. The author observes that the great and ancient cities of Alexandria, Athens and Beirut place a unique emphasis on their verandas: the place from which one sees the world. They are the vantage points and social spaces of their inhabitants, but also private spaces for reflection and introspection. Describing her love affair with Beirut, a city of contrasts and contradictions, the author also attempts to explain how urban dwellers negotiate their  communion with nature.

Balconies is a book about the complexities of life, and the defining moments that make us who we are. It is, above all, a book that celebrates survival, diversity and resilience.

Excerpts from Balconies: A Mediterranean Memoir have been translated by Aida Y. Haddad and have appeared in the daily Al-Hayat. the author has been invited to speak about the book in the US, including book readings hosted by the World Alumni Association of AUB and the Glendale Public Library in California.

Mishka Mojabber Mourani has published a collection of poems, Lest We Forget, Lebanon 1975-1990, and co-authored a series of four grammar and writing text books, Highlighting the English Language Program, as well as several articles on education, culture and current affairs.

In 2006, her short story, 'The Fragrant Garden,' appeared in a collection entitled Hikayat: Short Stories by Lebanese Women, published by Telegram Books (London, 2006). The story was selected for inclusion in a a book entitled  Lebanon Through Writers' Eyes, published by Eland (London, 2009).

Most recently, Mishka Mojabber Mourani?s  work has appeared in an anthology celebrating Beirut and published by Assabil in 2010 entitled Habiter Beyrouth? Parcours d'?criture, on the occasion of Beirut Book Capital of the World.

Mojabber Mourani, Mishka.  Balconies. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar An-Nahar, October, 2009 -101 pages
ISBN 978-99530-74-257-1

  • . mel

    I read BALCONIES by Mojabber-Mourani and was so touched by the book, she writes elegantly and with honesty. a wonderful tribute to Beirut in all its beauty and ugliness.

    30 أيلول 2010