Palestinian-American Wagih Abu-Rish’s Nad of Nadidé is an engaging novel centered around a young couples’ relationship amidst the upheaval of cultural, religious, and political obstacles.
Fareed is the beloved son of renowned London neurosurgeon parents. His mother is of Irish descent and his father is from Palestine. When Fareed’s relationship with an arrogant, abusive woman ends, he transfers to the University of Istanbul and soon becomes attracted to the beautiful student, Nadidé. Unfortunately, Nadidé is the daughter of a demanding, right-wing Islamist general and member of the Turkish military junta.
Nadidé’s father is suspected of kidnapping 11 socialists, thought to be executed. He expects Nadidé to marry Major Ata Aslan, a man with Muslim and Turkish roots that he finds suitable. But Nadidé is in love with Fareed, who has been warned that her father is dangerous. As the story evolves, it follows these seemingly star-crossed lovers as they’re unwittingly sucked into the political fray and individually abducted, to be used as bargaining tools for their captors.
Abu-Rish establishes Fareed’s mother as the model of a strong, no-nonsense individual who takes control of situations and commands respect. Amidst kidnappings, secret surveillances, and clandestine meetings that ably move the plot forward, we see the younger Nadidé following in her footsteps.
The dialogue is, at times, a bit formal, perhaps reflective of the Middle Eastern culture. While details help define the growing relationship of the central couple—from Fareed’s shared candies and love notes, to Nadidé’s similar offering of Turkish Delight confections—sometimes details go awry: The elaborate wedding celebration seems excessive within the story’s overall context, and Nadidé seems too intelligent to jump to the conclusions she makes about Fareed, such as jealously assuming he’s romantically interested in his cousin and his old girlfriend when this isn’t the case.
Nonetheless, Nad of Nadidé is filled with twists and turns that should attract those drawn to political conflict, cultural stigmas, and a relationship meant to be.
Also available in hardcover and paperback.