Jana Elhassan – Floor 99

From the International Prize for Arabic Fiction official biography and book description:

99Jana Elhassan is a Lebanese novelist and journalist, born in 1985. She has worked in journalism and translation since 2009 and has published literary texts and short stories in a number of cultural periodicals. Her first novel,Forbidden Desires, was published in 2009 and won the Simon Hayek Prize in Batroun, northern Lebanon. Her novelMe, She and the Other Women was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2013.

Floor 99 unfolds between the 1982 massacre at Sabra and Shatila in Lebanon and life in the city of New York in 2000. Majd is a young Palestinian man who bears a scar from the massacre. In present day New York, he falls in love with Hilda, a dancer, whose wealthy family from Mount Lebanon thrived on the power of the Christian right wing during the Lebanese civil war – who were directly linked to the massacre at Sabra and Shatila.

When Hilda decides to return to her village on Mount Lebanon to discover her roots, Majd is torn between mental images of the old enemy and his fear of losing her. He is forced to reflect on the painful events which took the life of his pregnant mother and turned his father, a teacher, into a rose-seller on the streets of Harlem. From his office on the 99th floor of a New York building, Majd’s Palestinian identity seems ambiguous, especially given that he was born and has always lived in exile. The novel reflects on the power of love to cleanse hatred and brings the post-war Lebanese generation face-to-face with their ancestors.


Jana Elhassan on Writing as a ‘Scandalous and Outrageous Act’ 


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