The Bamboo Stalk is a retelling of the east-to-west immigrant narrative, but this time it’s east-to-east: a half-Filipino, half-Kuwaiti teen moves from an impoverished life in the Philippines to the “paradise” of his father’s Kuwait. The book is a page-turner, following its narrator through harrowing setbacks, but its depth comes from the way it holds a mirror up to Kuwaiti society, and to Gulf Arabs’ relationship to migrant labour.
The novel received wide acclaim in Arabic, winning the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) in 2013. In Jonathan Wright’s capable English translation, the prose is so fast-moving and guileless that it reads like a young-adult novel, but this lack of sophistication allows Arab readers to re-see Kuwait through the eyes of a callow newcomer, named both Isa and Jose. Keep reading.
The IPAF-winning book, which was launched in London at the end of April, is set to come out in the US in September.
If you’re interested in a copy of the book: Post below with one book you’d suggest to other ArabLit readers as “summer reading” and a short note (a sentence is fine) on why. The book need not be a recent release, nor particularly summery.
Please note: I have only one giveaway copy, so I’ll do a drawing on May 31, 2015.