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Canceled Memories

A Novel

Nazik Saba Yared

Publication Year: 2009

Set during the Lebanese civil war, this novel chronicles the splintering of the Al-Mukhtars, a Lebanese family whose love and trust for one another is strained by the increasing economic, social, and psychological tensions that surround them. Huda, feeling helpless as a housewife, pursues a career as a university professor and immerses herself in her work and students. Sharif, trapped in a static bureaucratic position, begins to resent his wife’s success and slowly withdraws from his family. When their marriage dissolves, the couple fight over the custody of their adolescent daughter. In a patriarchal society that favors the rights of the father, Huda is powerless as her daughter is taken from her. Through the author’s use of flashbacks, the reader witnesses the stark contrast between the young, idealistic couple and the older husband and wife, who have become increasingly isolated and disillusioned.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. iii-iv

Contents

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pp. v-

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Translator’s Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

This translation would not have been possible if it were not for the support offered by so many people. I thank Dr. Nazik Saba Yared for trusting me with her novel and for making herself available for any questions throughout this project. Many thanks to Dr. John DuVal, my MFA director, for his...

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1

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pp. 1-13

Huda set up her camera, steadying it on the tripod. She estimated the distance to the church, adjusted the lens, and put on a filter just right for the sunny April day. Then she pressed the button, turned her camera a little bit, and pressed again. Pointing the lens upward, she pressed a third time...

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2

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pp. 14-31

“Are you done with your breakfast?” Huda asked when Dina pushed her plate away. “Are you full?” “Yes . . . so what’s this nice surprise you’ve arranged for today?” Dina asked. “Did you finish your homework? Until you do, I’m not going to tell you anything.” Dina looked at her, puzzled. “I told you yesterday I finished everything...

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3

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pp. 32-41

Sharif al-Mukhtar parked his car and turned off the engine. He opened the door for his companion, and they got out. Sharif walked slowly, and the other man followed him. Then they stood contemplating the view before them. Neither one said anything...

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4

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pp. 42-52

Huda and Dina arrived home. As usual, the power was out, and as usual Dina complained. “Couldn’t you find an apartment on a lower floor?” Huda said nothing. She climbed the stairs slowly, thinking about Ahmad. Was it Martyrs’ Square that made her think of him? Was it Dina’s griping...

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5

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pp. 53-57

They were at the table having lunch. Huda was afraid her daughter might have been put off, that she would hesitate before agreeing to spend another weekend with her, that she would rather spend her weekends with friends her own age, listening to modern music or window-shopping at...

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6

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pp. 58-65

Sharif opened his eyes, rubbed them, and looked at his watch. “Are you up, dear?” His mother was standing at the door, holding a tray with his usual postnap cup of coffee. “Is Dina back?” “No, not yet.” She put his cup on the end table next to his bed and sat in the chair across from him, hoping he would tell her about his day, his work, his colleagues...

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7

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pp. 66-78

Huda was in her office preparing questions for the monthly exams when a soft knock interrupted her train of thought. When she opened the door, a pale, skinny young man dressed in faded shirt and jeans stood before her. He hesitated. “Is this Dr. Halim Nasser’s office?” “It used to be. He moved the day before yesterday.”...

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8

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pp. 79-86

Umm Sharif opened the door for her. A cold welcome. No smile. Was it to make Huda feel neglectful of her daughter? Was it because her motherin- law held her responsible for wrecking her son’s house? Huda had never forgotten her husband’s blame whenever he came home after visiting his mother:...

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9

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pp. 87-95

Ten days later, Dina got better and went back to school. “Do I pick you up on Friday so you can come sleep over?” Huda couldn’t hide the excitement and hope in her voice. She could hear her heartbeats as she waited for her daughter’s answer on the phone. Could their conversation...

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10

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pp. 96-105

Sunday afternoon Huda dropped Dina off at her father’s house. That same evening she called him. “Sharif, I have to see you tomorrow. It’s very important.” “I can’t tomorrow,” he said coldly. “I have a commitment.” He didn’t ask what she wanted or why it was urgent. “All right then, the day after tomorrow.”...

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11

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pp. 106-112

Huda ran to the phone that she’d heard ringing even before putting her key in the door. “Hello? Huda?” The voice sounded familiar. “Yes,” Huda said. “Who is this?” “Guess who? It’s an old friend.” Who could it be? She knew the voice, but hadn’t heard it in a while. “Haifa?” Huda asked hesitantly...

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12

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pp. 113-117

May. Summer was at the door. Huda was in the dressing room trying on a blouse she had picked to go with her floral skirt. “How do you like this dress?” It was Dina’s voice! Huda’s arm froze, outside of the sleeve. Who was Dina talking to? “I don’t like the color. I like dark colors.”...

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13

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pp. 118-122

Najwa hadn’t missed a single employment ad. For three months, she’d been buying different papers, filling out dozens of applications, and making dozens of phone calls. All of it was useless. “The country’s going through an economic crisis,” her mother said. “Just be patient,” her sister said, trying to encourage her. “Things’ll start...

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14

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pp. 123-138

When Dina got home from school at three, she was relieved that her father was, as usual, there. “Dad, you want to have a snack with me?” she asked after putting her books in her room. Sharif looked at his watch. “I’ll sit with you for fifteen minutes,” he said...

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15

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pp. 139-142

At eight on the dot, Najwa was at the door of the medical laboratory. It was shut, so she rang the bell and waited. She didn’t hear anything. She rang again and waited. Nothing. She reread the opening hours posted on the door, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and stood waiting. Finally, she heard...

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16

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pp. 143-151

When Dina arrived home from school, Sharif was there, but he was about to leave. “Are you leaving?” Dina asked, inspecting his clean, ironed shirt, his stylish suit, his shiny shoes. “I have an appointment, dear,” he said and kissed her forehead. She took a...


E-ISBN-13: 9780815651420
E-ISBN-10: 0815651422
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815609377
Print-ISBN-10: 081560937X

Page Count: 144
Publication Year: 2009

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