Summary from Goodreads:
In Islamic and Western tradition, age twenty-nine is a milestone, a year of transformation and upheaval.
For Hala Alyan, this is a year in which the past–memories of family members, old friends and past lovers, the heat of another land, another language, a different faith–winds itself around the present. Hala’s ever-shifting, subversive verse sifts together and through different forms of forced displacement and the tolls they take on mind and body. Poems leap from war-torn cities in the Middle East, to an Oklahoma Olive Garden, a Brooklyn brownstone; from alcoholism to recovery; from a single woman to a wife. This collection summons breathtaking chaos, one that seeps into the bones of these odes, the shape of these elegies.
A vivid catalog of trauma, heartache, loneliness, and joy, The Twenty-Ninth Year is an education in looking for home and self in the space between disparate identities.
I was impressed with the poetic nature of Alyan’s novel Salt Houses so I was really interested in her new poetry collection. The poems in The Twenty-Ninth Year twist around themselves, unable to find an anchor in the body, in addiction, in middle America, or in the Middle East. It reminded me quite a lot of Porochista Khakpour’s excellent memoir Sick with that feeling of displacement. I didn’t quite feel that all the poems went together as a collection, though they are all good.
The Twenty Ninth Year is out now in the US.
Dear FTC: I read a digital galley of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss.