Layla AlAmmar, author of "Silence Is a Sense"
Date(s) - 03/20/2021
About this Event
Layla AlAmmar, a Kuwaiti-American writer and student of Arab literature, delivers here a complex and fluid book about memory, revolution, loss, and safety. Most of all, Silence is a Sense (Algonquin) reminds us just how fundamental human connection is to survival.
More about Silence is a Sense:
A young woman sits in her apartment, watching the small daily dramas of her neighbors across the way. She is an outsider, a mute voyeur, safe behind her windows, and she sees it all—the sex, the fights, the happy and unhappy families. Journeying from her war-torn Syrian homeland to this unnamed British city has traumatized her into silence, and her only connection to the world is the column she writes for a magazine under the pseudonym “the Voiceless,” where she tries to explain the refugee experience without sensationalizing it—or revealing anything about herself.
Gradually, though, the boundaries of her world expand. She ventures to the corner store, to a bookstore and a laundromat, and to a gathering at a nearby mosque. And it isn’t long before she finds herself involved in her neighbors’ lives. When an anti-Muslim hate crime rattles the neighborhood, she has to make a choice: Will she remain a voiceless observer, or become an active participant in a community that, despite her best efforts, is quickly becoming her own?
“Kuwaiti-American author Layla AlAmmar masterfully depicts that silence is a refuge, too, for people affected by the unspeakable . . . AlAmmar succeeds in challenging the refugee or asylum-seeker stereotype, including the one of a young Arab woman.”
—The Markaz Review
Layla AlAmmar is a writer and academic from Kuwait. She has a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Edinburgh. Her short stories have appeared in the Evening Standard, Quail Bell Magazine, the Red Letters St. Andrews Prose Journal, and Aesthetica Magazine, where her story “The Lagoon” was a finalist for the 2014 Creative Writing Award. She was the 2018 British Council international writer in residence at the Small Wonder Short Story Festival. Her debut novel, The Pact We Made, was published in 2019. She has written for The Guardian and ArabLit Quarterly. She is currently pursuing a PhD on the intersection of Arab women’s fiction and literary trauma theory.