The Parisian illuminates a pivotal period of Palestinian history through the journey and romances of one young man, from his studies in France during World War I to his return to Palestine at the dawn of its battle for independence.
... dazzling ... a deeply imagined historical novel with none of the usual cobwebs of the genre ... has an up-close immediacy and stylistic panache ... A less confident writer might have chosen for her hero a man of action...But Hammad settles instead, like Flaubert, on a conflicted dreamer ... Isabella Hammad has crafted an exquisite novel that, like Midhat himself, delves back into the confusing past while remaining wholly anchored in the precarious present.
... a beautiful chronicle ... The experience of reading The Parisian is akin to plunging into a great 19th-century classic, thanks to the languorous pace, easy poise, minute observations and the apparent ease with which Hammad takes her third person narrative from one character to another, letting her reader inhabit different viewpoints. There is also an underlying urgency to this rich, luscious novel: the themes that Hammad explores in Midhat’s life reverberate in the book’s political framework, which charts Palestine’s struggle under Ottoman, French and British rule between 1914 and 1936 ... The Parisian is a skilful demonstration of how the personal and the political are inescapably intertwined.
... assured and captivating ... It is, unavoidably, a crowded narrative—the introductory list of characters stretches over three pages—but Ms. Hammad’s acute evocation of both place and personality ensures that we are never lost ... There may be one subplot too many in this roomy, billowing epic ... Like a passionate tour guide, Ms. Hammad wants us to see everything, even the invisible. And we do."