Unselfconscious, unflinching, unapologetic
The Syrian Ladies’ Benevolent Society by Christine Estima is a genuine and compelling narrative of the women in one family, beginning in 1860, that leads to present-day Azurée, who is navigating the complexities of her hyphenated heritage while learning about ethnicity, sex, pain, and trust.
The stories begin with Azurée’s ancestors’ migration from the Middle East to Canada after being forced to leave their home.
“The place to disembark, she said, was called Montreal. My body seized at the name, and my grip on the pistol tightened until my palms shook.
“Why is it called that?” I asked.
“The French–“ she swatted at the air “Once they were everywhere. Once they ruled the world. Now they beg for their former slaves to populate their colonies””
“Christine introduces us to the Syrian Ladies’ Benevolent Society and examines the important but complicated cultural connection it provides in the community.”
In Montreal, Christine introduces us to the Syrian Ladies’ Benevolent Society and examines the important but complicated cultural connection it provides in the community.
“Sayfy wasn’t entirely sure why a ladies’ society needed male supervision, but he also didn’t understand the point of a church solely for Arabs. Then again, if the Church of England could do it, why not they?”
These respectful, even-handed and transformative accounts of Azurée’s family provide the cultural space in which she will thoughtfully and intelligently explore her relationships, identity, and options to determine her future.
“i feel like I’m in life’s dress rehearsal. but if i don’t like the outcome, i can still change my script. i can remove a character if he’s not vital to my plot.”
The Syrian Ladies’ Benevolent Society is smart, elegant, and a necessary contribution to the overall literature challenging so many suffocating cultural stereotypes in Canadian society.
About the Author
CHRISTINE ESTIMA is an Arab woman of mixed ethnicity (Lebanese, Syrian, and Portuguese) whose essays and short stories have appeared in the New York Times, the Walrus, VICE, the Globe and Mail, Chatelaine, Maisonneuve, and many more. She was shortlisted for the 2018 Allan Slaight Prize for Journalism, longlisted for the 2015 CBC Canada Writes Creative Nonfiction prize, and a finalist for the 2011 Writers’ Union of Canada short prose competition. Born in Trois-Rivières and raised in Montreal, she lives in Toronto.
- Publisher : House of Anansi (Nov. 14 2023)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 208 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1487012330
- ISBN-13 : 978-1487012335