cover of book

The Cat Who Taught Me How to Fly: An Arab Prison Novel
by Hashem Gharaibeh
translated by Nesreen Akhtarkhavari
Michigan State University Press, 2017
Paper: 978-1-61186-228-7 | eISBN: 978-1-60917-513-9
Library of Congress Classification PJ7826.H297Q5813 2017
Dewey Decimal Classification 892.736

In his masterpiece The Cat Who Taught Me How to Fly, Hashem Gharaibeh tells the moving story of a political prisoner during Jordan’s martial law era, which spanned from 1967 to 1989. Gharaibeh defies the taboos of politics, sex, and religion to tell a thrilling and brutally honest story about the horrors and insanities of everyday life in an Arab prison. At once both a novel and an autobiography, the author draws from his own experiences as a Jordanian youth arrested and imprisoned for nearly a decade for his affiliation with the Jordanian Communist Party. The novel uniquely portrays prison culture intertwined with tribal, ideological, and political perspectives to explain both mundane and esoteric aspects of prison life in this time and era, illustrating an experience that is traumatic, humane, and inspiring. A heartwrenching story of learning, survival, and the quest for the freedom of thought is told with powerful defiance and grace, exposing us to human frailty, strength, and one man’s dream to soar beyond the walls of prison, society, and self.

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