As the Lebanese writer Hanan al-Shaykh will come to Dartmouth in the spring, I would like to recommend her novel The Story of Zahra because it is one of the masterpieces in the Arabic language. During the war that ravaged Beirut, Zahra is involved in the family intrigue as her mother uses her as a cover for her encounters with her lover. She is punished by her father for being complicit in her mother's betrayal. This is the beginning of a girl and then a woman's search for her own identity along a trajectory that takes her from Beirut to West Africa and then back to Beirut where the war is ongoing. Hanan al-Shaykh writes provocative books about women and the complexity of their lives. The Story of Zahra was banned in many Arabic countries when it was published in 1986. It is now a classic as is another novel Women of Sand and Myrrh, published in 1988. She recounts the story of four privileged women who enjoy every economic advantage, but cannot enjoy freedom in the unnamed desert country where they live.