About this book
Hope Has Two Daughters
Monia Mazigh • Fred Reed
A bracing and vividly told story set against the backdrops of the Tunisian Bread Riots in 1984 and the Jasmine Revolution in 2010, Hope Has Two Daughters offers a glimpse inside revolution from the perspectives of a mother and daughter.
Unwilling to endure a culture of silence and submission, and disowned by her family, Nadia leaves her native Tunisia in 1984 amidst deadly violence, chaos, and rioting brought on by rising food costs, eventually emigrating to Canada to begin her life.
More than twenty-five years later, Nadia’s daughter Lila reluctantly travels to Tunisia to learn about her mother’s birth country. While she’s there, she connects with Nadia’s childhood friends, Neila and Mounir. She uncovers agonizing truths about her mother’s life as a teenager and imagines what it might have been like to grow up in fear of political instability and social unrest. As she is making these discoveries, protests over poor economic conditions and lack of political freedom are increasing, and soon, Lila finds herself in the midst of another revolution — one that will inflame the country and change the Arab world, and her, forever.
Weaving together the voices of two women at two pivotal moments in history, the Tunisian Bread Riots in 1984 and the Jasmine Revolution in 2010, Hope Has Two Daughters is a vivid story that perfectly captures life inside revolution.
The two girls were called Reem and Farah. They giggled to themselves as they glanced at one another, flickering their eyelids. One had her hair done pageboy style, slicked down, and a button nose, light-coloured skin, and slightly slanted eyes that made her look like a cat about to pounce. The other was constantly adjusting her abundant chestnut hair with the back of her hand. Her black eyes accentuated the whiteness of her skin; a few reddish blotches marked her oval face. Reem and Farah looked me over carefully when they saw me come in with Donia. Even before we were introduced, I knew they wouldn’t like me. My ripped jeans, my multiple earrings worn in a line along my earlobe, the high forehead I’d inherited from my mom, and my blues eyes, just like my dad’s: everything about me told them just how foreign I was. Even my brown and hopelessly curly hair that stood out in corkscrew-like tufts from my head — another hand-me-down from Mom and a source of wonder, of compliments, and admiration during my childhood in Canada — was not enough for them to see me as a Tunisian. Me, the daughter born of the marriage of Nadia the Tunisian and Alex the Canadian. In their eyes, I was some kind of strange mix, a hybrid, a monstrosity produced by the meeting of two distinct worlds but clearly belonging to neither.
About the Creators
Monia Mazigh was born and raised in Tunisia and immigrated to Canada in 1991. She was catapulted onto the public stage in 2002 when her husband, Maher Arar, was deported to Syria where he was tortured and held without charge. She campaigned tirelessly for his release. Mazigh holds a Ph.D. in finance from McGill University. She is the National Coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. She has published a memoir, Hope and Despair, and her novel Mirrors and Mirages was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award in the original French.
International journalist and award-winning literary translator Fred A. Reed is also a respected specialist on politics and religion in the Middle East. He has reported extensively on Middle Eastern affairs for La Presse, CBC Radio-Canada, and Le Devoir. A three-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Translation, Reed has translated many works, including Monia Mazigh’s memoir Mirrors and Mirages. Fred A. Reed lives in Montreal.
Awards and Praise
Praise for Monia Mazigh and Hope Has Two Daughters:
“Can literature bear witness? This is the literary quest undertaken by Monia Mazigh in her novel about revolutions and families, about the Bread Riots of Tunisia and the Arab Spring. How do women come of age as dissidents? The difficult secrets shared by mothers and daughters are universal in this thoroughly imagined narrative in which a Canadian story is, necessarily, a story of the world.” — Kim Echlin, author of Under the Visible Life
Praise for Monia Mazigh and Mirrors and Mirages:
Trillium Book Award Finalist
“Mirrors and Mirages will appeal to those who will find in it a reflection of their lives, and it will reward the curious, who will discover in it portraits of lives that are both fascinating and surprisingly familiar.” — National Post
“A fascinating, multifaceted portrait of independent Muslim women.” — Toronto Star
“Mazigh has added a dimension to Canadian literature that will, no doubt, continue to deepen and grow.” — Montreal Gazette
“Mirrors and Mirages offers a refreshing glimpse into the inner lives of a cohort not yet well represented in Canadian fiction.” — Montreal Review of Books
“Monia Mazigh’s novel gives voice to Muslim women.” — Ottawa Citizen
“Mirrors and Mirages has enriched Canadian literature … a lyrical work.” — Rabble.ca
“With a surprising touch, Monia Mazigh achieves a tour de force in this novel: showing us the true faces of individual Muslim women, most of them young, she makes it impossible to shunt them into the category of ‘the Other,’ hostile and disturbing. Though they have not renounced their faith and embraced secular modernity, they are contemporaries of their fellow citizens and part of our common humanity whose dreams and passions they share.” — Trillium Jury Citation
Praise for Monia Mazigh and Hope and Despair:
“A fascinating book.” — Quill & Quire
“A great love story for our times … a stirring, inspiring tale of a woman who would not give up on her husband, who steadfastly believed in him despite a chorus of powerful voices condemning him.” — Calgary Herald