Thérèse Soukar Chehade

Last updated
Thérèse Soukar Chehade
Born Beirut, Lebanon
OccupationAuthor, teacher
LanguageEnglish
Nationality Lebanese, American
Alma mater University of Massachusetts Amherst
Genre Novels
Subject War, Refugees, Immigrants
Notable works Loom: A Novel
Notable awards Arab American Book Award for Fiction (2011)
Children2

Thérèse Soukar Chehade is an American author. Her first book, Loom: a Novel, published in 2010 by Syracuse University Press, won the 2011 Arab American Book Award. [1] Soukar Chehade lives in western Massachusetts, where she writes and teaches English. [2]

Contents

Early life and education

Thérèse Soukar Chehade was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. When she was 12 years old, the civil war broke out, and "for the next eight years she toggled between living the life of an ordinary teenager and hiding from bullets and bombs." In 1983, she moved from Lebanon to Massachusetts. There she enrolled at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she obtained a Master of Fine Arts in English writing, studying with John Edgar Wideman, as well as a master's degree in English language education. [3]

Writing influences

Soukar Chehade's writing centers around the civilian experience of living in a war zone, fleeing from war, and having to start a new life from scratch in a new place. She credits Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse" with inspiring her to write in her non-native English. [2] [4]

Loom: A Novel

Synopsis

Chehade's first novel, "Loom," portrays a Lebanese-American family, the Zaydans, struggling to reconcile generational differences and immigrant identity. On the evening of the arrival of a cousin, Eva, from Lebanon, the Zaydans are sequestered by a blizzard. Amidst the storm, the family matriarch, Emilie, struggles with English and prefers not to speak. Her eldest daughter, Josephine, still lives at home with her brother George's family and remembers the independence she had in Lebanon. George's daughter, Marie, longs to leave behind her conservative family and head off to Berkeley. With Eva stranded in the storm in New York, and tensions rising, Emilie braves the blizzard to deliver a meal to the mysterious neighbor the Zaydans have nicknamed "Loom," and the family is forced to leave the metaphorical and actual isolation of their home as they go after her. [2] [5]

Influences

In the novel, Chehade draws heavily from her experiences growing up during the Lebanese Civil War as well as from her life as a young immigrant in New England. Her memories of the war helped to inform the character development of Eva and Salma. [6]

Reception

On release, Loom was recommended by Library Journal magazine, as part of its "Fall Firsts" purchase list. [7] In Foreword Reviews, Jessica Henkle described the book as an entire story formed within a pause where what ensues over twenty-four hours is spellbinding, revealing a history of secrets and resentments, of undisclosed pain and unshakable love. [8] Theri Alyce Pickens thought the book was a hauntingly beautiful read, where as the snow falls, the novel’s pace slows considerably to give room to the characters’ musings, but where this slowness is compensated for by Chehade’s outstanding skill in developing their memories, painting each with depth and sadness without making them tragic or depressing. [9]

Awards

Bibliography

Fiction

Newspaper columns

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References

  1. "Loom: A Novel". Syracuse University Press. syracuseuniversitypress.syr.edu/. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 Eason, Hannah. "Home Cooking in a Blizzard: an Interview with Thérèse Soukar Chehade". hercirclezine.com. Institute of Arts and Social Engagement. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  3. Cutts, Emily (February 10, 2017). "Safe in America: Immigrants escape violence, embrace citizenship". Daily Hampshire Gazette. Retrieved 30 Dec 2018.
  4. Plum, Hilary (June 2, 2011). "Interview with Thérèse Soukar Chehade: Literature and Uprising". Kenyon Review.
  5. Loom: a novel (Book 2010). World cat.org. OCLC   607977560.
  6. Delany, Nora (January 6, 2011). "Fuse Book Review: Remembrance of Lebanon Past (Updated With Interview)". artsfuse.org. The Arts Fuse: Boston's Online Arts Magazine: Dance, Film, Literature, Music, Theater, and more. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  7. Witherell, Mary (Oct 1, 2010). "Fall Firsts". Library Journal. 135 (16). ISSN   0363-0277. ProQuest   818700231.
  8. Henkle, Jessica (2011). "Loom: Arab American Writing Series" (PDF). Foreword Reviews.
  9. Pickens, Theri Alyce (2011). "Lingering on the Beauty of Regret". Al Jadid. 16 (63).