Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press (HBKU Press) has published award-winning author Lilas Taha’s second book, Lost in Thyme. Taha’s first book with HBKU Press, Bitter Almonds, won the 2017 International Book Award in the category of Fiction-Multicultural.
Drawing on her own multicultural background and experiences, Taha deftly explores the realities of displacement and identity by examining the cross-generational and cultural histories of Palestinians. The book’s message, woven through an intricate and heartfelt narrative, is that of hope demonstrated by the inextricable link that all Palestinian’s have to their homeland: one that never breaks no matter how much time has passed, or how far a distance had been traveled.
“Books written by Arab authors in English highlight the complexity of the Arab narrative as they showcase the experiences of Arabs outside of the region,” explains Fakhri Saleh, Senior Editor at HBKU Press. “HBKU Press is committed to publishing books like Lilas’s that successfully promote cross-cultural communication and understanding. The reception of Lilas’ first book put the condition of displaced Palestinians at the forefront after winning an international award. With Lost in Thyme, Lilas once again tells a Palestinian story that readers around the world will identify with as she draws on the basic human emotions of hope and love.”
Lost in Thyme is a book about two first generation Palestinian-Americans, Sami Amara and Petra Haddad, who are thrust together by a dying man’s wish. Sami, heir to the Amara & Sons Construction Company, has been plagued by visions of a mysterious red-haired girl that he just can’t place. When his father suddenly dies, he is confronted with a past that he never knew existed: a mysterious girl, now woman, and promises unfulfilled. Petra, a single mother living in Kuwait, has grown accustomed to a life of routine, predictability and…loneliness. When a lawyer calls her up to discuss the last will and testament of a man she never even knew, her world is turned upside down.
Sami and Petra begin a whirlwind journey that explores their families’ mysterious past, from America all the way to the precarious rural landscapes of their native country, Palestine. As their lives and histories entangle and intertwine, will they be able to forge a shared future together or will fate once again intervene?
Taha’s plots are suspenseful and riveting and her sincere and insightful characters illuminate the realities of Palestinians displaced around the world and their struggle with and acceptance of their multicultural identities. Taha is able to weave a narrative like no other, encouraging her audience to examine, question, and think about the realities of other people. Inspired by her own experiences as a Palestinian in America and those of her children who identify culturally and equally both as American and Palestinian, Taha seeks to explore that binding element in the lives of people who are forced to live away from Palestine.
“With HBKU Press, I have been extremely fortunate to have a team who is as enthusiastic about Lost in Thyme as I am”, says Taha, reflecting on her experience publishing her second title with HBKU Press. “Once the final editing touches were done, their high professionalism in carrying out steps to production, from clever cover design, to print and distribution, freed me to turn my attention to new writing projects knowing my book was in excellent hands.”
Taha is currently working on a sequel to Lost in Thyme tentatively titled Found in Thyme to be published with HBKU Press.
Lost in Thyme is available on in bookstores across Qatar, on Bookdepository.com, on Waterstones.com, and online as an eBook on Kindle.