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Brooklyn Heights

2.72  ·  Rating details ·  1,141 ratings  ·  232 reviews
Hind, newly arrived in New York with her eight-year-old son, several suitcases of unfinished manuscripts, and hardly any English, finds a room in a Brooklyn teeming with people like her who dream of becoming writers.

As she discovers the various corners of her new home, they conjure up parallel memories from her childhood and her small Bedouin village in the Nile Delta:
Hardcover, 182 pages
Published January 15th 2012 by American University in Cairo Press (first published 2010)
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Average rating 2.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,141 ratings  ·  232 reviews

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Oct 09, 2016 rated it liked it
I always feel slightly cheated when a book begins in the present but then spends a lot of the time going over the past. What interested me about this book was how a single mother, immigrant from Egypt, would cope, thrust into New York. I understand how important her past was but the book didn't really go anywhere. There was a lot of discussion on the other immigrants in her area and a lot of walking around New York. There is no doubt the author is talented but I didn't think the book delivered ...more
Jan 09, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group-iqraa
It gets depressing a bit around the middle of the book but then it gets better. I finished the book then read a few reviews (which is what I usually do so as not to spoil the book for me). The book tells us Hind's story, her childhood and teenager years in Egypt then her life after she leaves her husband in America. While she is moving between these two, we know more about the people around her in both places. The book is more about her journey rather than the end. Again in some places it gets ...more
Jun 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book. I've read her other book The Tent and loved it. It's a very stream-of-conscious and dream-like story of a young girl confined to her Bedouin compound. This book takes place in the U.S. but almost seems like it's the same character but as an adult (it isn't, it just seems like a similar character), a single mother who escaped her life in Egypt and landed in Brooklyn, struggling financially and emotionally. I liked it for it's readability and story, for the descriptions of the ...more
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arabic-fiction
I don't really know how to rate this book. On the one hand it was beautifully written, with poetic and evocative descriptions that brought the two worlds of Egypt and Brooklyn to life. The stories of Hend's childhood in Egypt were my favourite part of the book, partly because the main plot in Brooklyn wasn't really going anywhere, but also because they seemed so much more vivid and alive and meaningful than anything that was happening in Hend's present life.

On the other hand I found the ending
Shambhawi P.
I don't like to read Paulo Coelho's books. I have tried but the words just don't pull me in. I hear the stories are beautiful and full of emotions but something about them don't work for me.

Why am I saying this here? Because that is exactly what happened between me and Brooklyn Heights. The story in itself was great one about a struggling writer in a foreign country with a son who is ashamed of his heritage and his mother. It was a raw, beautiful story. One that I tried so much to love. But I
Beth Asma
Jun 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting in visualizing the life of contemporary immigrants in the melting pot of Brooklyn (New York City, U.S.) The characters bring the artifacts and memories of their homeland (Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, et al) with them. The story did well in mingling the old home with the new home. Immigrants eked a living from businesses and other sources either unavailable or unacceptable in the former country. The next generation without the memories or appreciation of the immigrants' music, ...more
Sherif Azer
As one of most anticipated novels of 2010, Miral El Tahawi's latest novel "Brooklyn Heights" is released with eyes on the Booker prize. The novel follows Hind, an Egyptian woman living with her child in Flat Bush Street in Brooklyn. She is running away from her previous life after her husband suddenly deserted her and her child. With a feminist overtones, Hind moves between her current life in Brooklyn and her early, mostly sad memories. The novel showcases immigrants in the United States coming ...more
Renita D'Silva
A novel about the immigrant experience, poignant and astutely observed.
Oct 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: good-riddance
Miral al-Tahawy is a talented writer. I loved her way with words and how she creates wonderful imagery. Unfortunately, she isn't a talented storyteller. Brooklyn Heights is novel in which nothing interesting happens. The narrator, Hend, is an Egyptian immigrant living in New York. According to the synopsis, she's an aspiring writer, but she doesn't ever do anything aside from wander around New York and reminisce about her African childhood.

There are so many things that annoyed me about this
Miriam Cihodariu
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: egypt
I went through this one like in a dream: it reads like a reverie, even if you're tired, the flow of the story carries things further and further, like a tide. Even if side-streams are formed once in a while, the narrative is easy to follow and doesn't jump from one idea to another unexpectedly or too often.

I saw that some readers were displeased with the fact that this focuses too much on the main character's past. She is now living in the U.S. but allegedly she describes her current situation
Sep 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
Books are full of sad stories, but there are generally some positive developments..they make you feel that all that sadness is worth something, if not through a happy ending at least through some "positive peaks". Maybe it's because of the cultural difference, but I couldn't find any positivity in this novel, neither in the story, nor in the writing.
It felt like reading a long and sad monologue, more a report than an actual novel.
Noha Mohamed
Feb 07, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A very boring read. The experiences and the places feel very foreign, despite my being Egyptian living abroad and have gone through similar experiences as the protagonist. I couldn't relate to Hend in any way. I felt like the story lacked plot, it felt more like a record of the author's random thoughts.
Esra Tasdelen
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved her musings on being an immigrant, and the female voice comes through so strong.. Probably will be very nostalgic for someone who has lived in Egypt and later moved to the US.. a lot of what she wrote felt very personal and familiar.
May 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: translated
2.5 stars - wanted to like it but Hend's so annoying.
Bill Porter
Hend emigrates from Cairo to Brooklyn, full of hope and apprehension, when Obama is about to take the presidency. But the US image of a land of opportunity is but a mirage for some, and Hend's optimism gives way to concern about the present and anxiety for the future. She finds more comfort in her memories of the past in a land far away.

I was struck by the poignancy of an uncle’s advice to his nephew: - “But exile is a son of a bitch, Ziyad, and in the end it only gives you what you’ve got
Brooklyn in this novel serves as the destination for people who arrive from the Middle East with dreams of stardom. However, they end up as bakers, traders, or just wandering in the streets and parks of the neighborhood just as the main character, Hend. Although she has left Cairo to make a new life for herself and her son, she spends her time getting to know people that has made the same journey and not least comparing her new situation with her past life in Egypt. Despite this voluntary exile ...more
Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very exhausting novel, energy absorbent !!
Loved the combination between her early life with the strict habits and traditions and her life in Brooklyn that she thought she might escape from her early life by travelling abroad but all that happened was the contrary. Amazing details, perfectly written.. But very depressing and frustrating . . .
The ending kinda confused me.. Does she meant that she'll end like Lillite? Losing her memory gradually and being unable to write? And Hend's son will end
This book may deserve more than three stars. The problem is, I got pulled away from it for a few days and in that time, lost my sense of connection with the character. At first I enjoyed her reflections and flashbacks, but by the end of the book, I was having some trouble following them and seeing the cohesiveness. I didn't understand the ending. However, this is the type of book that should be read more than once and in my efforts to be a better reader, I hope to reread parts, at least. And ...more
Samira Awaad
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel is written with the most beautiful and elegant prose in arabic and in english translation and for the first few few pages I really was enjoying the book .
This book has characters who I want to know, a story that made my heart ache and yet lifted my spirit at the same time and writing that is just so good that I didn't want the last page to be the last page.
Not one single happy though during this novel ... not even a tiniest feeling of happiness that was hidden somewhere. The heroine decided that was going to be the martyr, and she did it brilliantly, a performance that would deserve a Golden Globe, an Academy Award, and a single gunshot to the head from me ...
May 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2012
I am fascinated by this writer after reading The Tent earlier in the spring. This had many of the same themes though it is set in Brooklyn, not Egypt. The juxtaposition of New York street life with the main character's memories of her Bedouin childhood is fascinating. I wish she would get picked up by a mainstream publisher. A unique voice.
Shorouk Amr
Jul 06, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So Boring! there is no point. Sometimes i felt that the author is just filling spaces ... "Hend" in my opinion is a very negative cold woman, she's not the good choice character to be on spot... There is no harmony touched between other characters. The author probably failed to do Flash backs.
Heba Ahmady
I liked it but not that much , I hated the end of the story , I spend alot of effort trying to understande the story as the writer was taking us abck and fourth between the far past , the past and the persent I got very confused ...
Guirgis Nessim
Jun 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nostalgic .. deeply-detailed .. bold .. revealing .. un-orthodox!
Glory Wilson
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heartbreakingly honest about the inner person, sexuality, death, family dynamics and daily living of traditional Muslim women in America . The translation is wonderful too.
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like it.
Over the last ten years there has been many books i red, but there are only a few that can be classed as the most interesting books of the last decade.
Sep 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
very goooooooooooooood
This was disappointing. There's great potential here and it gets weird on the last page, but the story just . . . lies there for the most part. I wanted some kind of animating spark.
Madooo1990 Ghonim
Nov 18, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A bit depressing. Portrayed some aspects of the immigrants life in NY. Particularly Arabs.
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Middle East/North...: Egypt: Brooklyn Heights 26 31 Jul 19, 2015 10:18AM  
واقعى 1 18 Jul 01, 2012 10:53PM  

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Miral al-Tahawy (Arabic: ميرال الطحاوي) is an Egyptian writer of short stories and novels.
Until she left for Cairo at the age of 26, al-Tahawy had never left her village (Geziret Saoud in the eastern Nile delta) without a male relative or guardian. She managed to avoid marriage by working as a teacher, and then by leaving without permission to study at the University of Cairo.
Born in 1968 into
“الحب يجعل البشر أكثر خفة وأناقة وجاذبية” 12 likes
“تـشعر أنها أصبحت أكبر سنا، وأنها كانت تسمع تلك الكلمات المستسلمة والحذرة، والتي لا تعنى شيئا في الحقيقة، كانت تسمعها من أمها التى كانت تعقيباتها تأتي متواترة "إن شاء الله.. كله بأمره.. من يعرف؟ كله بأوان..". تتأكد من أنها صارت تشبه أمها أكثر، خصوصا بعد أن قصّت شعرها ليصبح قصيرا أسود فاحما، وأن لشعرها رائحة الصبعة اليابانية "بايجن" التي كانت تفضلها أمها لتخفى بها الشيب، وأنّ مشيتها أيضا صار لها تلك الحركة البطيئة المسالمة المتعبة، تماما مثلما كانت تراها في نهاية اليوم متعبة ومجهدة، تستعمل قاموس المسلّمات الوجودية؛ لتكبل أحلامها بأن تصبح مضيفة طيران أو عالمة فضاء بأن تقول لها ضاحكة "العلم عند الله يا بنتى وكله بأمره".” 10 likes
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