Voices of the Lost

A Novel

Hoda Barakat; Translated from the Arabic by Marilyn Booth

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Winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, this novel weaves together a series of devastating confessions about life in contemporary Arab society

This profound and disturbing novel by acclaimed Lebanese author Hoda Barakat tells the story of characters living on the periphery, battling with poverty, and fighting their own demons.
Set in an unnamed, war-torn country, the novel consists of six letters—all intercepted by unintended recipients, all of whom are compelled to write their own letters of confession. An undocumented immigrant writes his former lover. A woman in a hotel writes a man from her past. An escaped torturer recounts his crimes to his mother. A former prostitute writes to her brother. A young queer man recounts to his estranged father his partner’s battle with AIDS. Finally, the mailman leaves his own note. Incisive, troubling and deeply human, this is an urgent story of lives intimately woven together in a society that is tearing itself apart.

Hoda Barakat has published five novels and two plays. In 2015, she was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize. She currently lives in Paris. Marilyn Booth is professor of Arabic languages and literature at Magdalen College, Oxford.

“Spare and deep, Voices of the Lost captivates. Hoda Barakat is one of Lebanon's greatest gifts to literature, and Booth allows her English audience to explore this painful and irresistible present.”—Amy Bloom, author of White Houses

“Marilyn Booth effortlessly captures the ache, incomprehension, and longing in Hoda Barakat’s spare and luminous prose. Barakat is without doubt one of the most important and gifted novelists writing today—as a translator, Booth is every bit her equal.”—Shawkat M. Toorawa, translator of Adonis: A Time Between Ashes and Roses 

“Drawing on the power of testimonial, Hoda Barakat's characters relate tales of loss, regret, and displacement. Beautifully written and filled with a raw, audacious honesty, these lost and found letters draw readers into an extraordinary embrace and refuse to let go.”—Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Birds of Paradise

“Hoda Barakat is one of the most versatile and innovative novelists in the Arab world. Here, in a fugue of undelivered letters, she etches the portraits of a series of existential refugees, lost between countries, languages, and lives.”—Marilyn Hacker, author of Blazons

"A subversive novel that examines sorrow, longing, violence, kindness, and compassion. The places may be named, but the protagonists are nameless. We love them because they are us."—Fady Joudah, author of Tethered to Stars

Voices of the Lost . . . stands out for its condensed economy of language, narrative structure, and capacity to convey the inner workings of human beings.”—Charafdine Majdouline, Chair of Judges, International Prize for Arabic Fiction

“The tragedies in Voices of the Lost are agonizing . . . [a] searing prizewinner.”—Madeleine Thien, The Guardian
ISBN: 9780300255263
Publication Date: March 2, 2021
208 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2

Sales Restrictions: For sale in the United States, its territories and dependencies, Canada, and the Philippine Islands
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