A beautiful and heart-rending tale, The Map of Salt and Stars follows the lives of two young women who undergo very similar geographical journeys, albeit 800 years apart. After tragedy befalls her immediate family, Nour, her sisters and their cartographer mother emigrate back to Syria to stay closer to the rest of the family. Unfortunately, the country that Nour's mother once knew is changing rapidly. Shelling and violence eventually force their hand, and they embark on a journey across numerous countries in the Middle East and North Africa in hopes of reaching safety.
Meanwhile, 800 years in the past, 16 year old Riwaya seeks to help support her impoverished and widowed mother by disguising as a boy and becoming a cartographer's apprentice. Her mentor, al-Idrisi has been commissioned by Sicily's King Roger II to draft a map of the world. Together, they too journey across North Africa and the Middle East, encountering strange creatures, danger, and individuals who have been immortalized in history. As the two young women travel their mirrored paths, readers are immersed in the rich and diverse cultures of the regions.
Join us in our 2nd floor Art Department, as Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar talks with Cinelle Barnes and Hala Alyan about her new book!
Hala Alyan is a Palestinian American writer and clinical psychologist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Guernica and elsewhere. Her poetry collections have won the Arab American Book Award and the Crab Orchard Series. Her debut novel, SALT HOUSES, was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2017, and was longlisted for the Aspen Words Literary Prize.
Cinelle Barnes is an essayist, memoirist, educator, and candlemaker with a BA in media studies in journalism from Hunter College and a master of fine arts in creative writing from Converse College. She is a member of Kundiman and the Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA). Books have been the one constant in her life—through her tumultuous childhood in the Philippines, her years living as an undocumented immigrant in New York City, her time as a new bride living in the American South, and as she completed her MFA program and began writing about her secrets. She lives between two states with her husband and daughter: New York, where she is always inspired to write, and South Carolina, where she can be close to the ocean. Find her online at www.cinellebarnes.com, and follow her on Instagram @cinellebarnesbooks.
Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar is a Syrian American author. Originally from New York City, Jennifer was born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother. Her writing focuses on themes of Syrian American and Arab American identity. She is a member of the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI) and of American Mensa. Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, The Saturday Evening Post, PANK Magazine, The Normal School, Mizna, and elsewhere. She is a 2017-2020 Montalvo Arts Center Lucas Artists Program Literary Arts Fellow and an alum of the Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA) and the Tin House Writers’ Workshop. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net. For more information, please visit JenniferJoukhadar.com.