Voices of the Lost

Pages: 208
Imprint: Oneworld

Voices of the Lost

Winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2019

Hoda Barakat

Translated by Marilyn Booth
Winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, a devastating story of displacement, war, and the unlikely glimmer of hope in the dark
9781786077226 (4 Feb 2021)
RRP £12.99

The Book


'Barakat isn't writing about 'the immigrant'. She's writing about the human.' Rumaan Alam, author of Leave the World Behind

Shortlisted for the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Translation

Winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, a devastating story of displacement, war, and the unlikely glimmer of hope in the dark

In an unnamed country torn apart by war, six strangers are compelled to share their darkest secrets. Taking pen to paper, each attempts to put in writing what they can't bring themselves to say to the person they love - mother, father, brother, lost love. Their words form a chain of dark confessions, none of which reaches the intended recipient. But their consequences will ripple through other lives, affecting strangers in ways the writers could never have anticipated...

Luminous and haunting, Voices of the Lost tells the moving story of characters living on the periphery, battling displacement, poverty, and the demons within themselves. From one of today's most talented Arabic writers, this is the story of lives intimately woven together in a society that is tearing itself apart. 


'Hoda Barakat is one of Lebanon's greatest gifts to literature' Amy Bloom, author of White Houses

Additional Information

Pages 208
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Hoda Barakat was born in Beirut in 1952. She studied French Literature at the Lebanese University and moved to Paris with her family in 1989. She has published five novels and two plays. Her novels have been translated into several languages and received numerous prestigious prize nominations, including the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature for The Tiller of Waters (2000). In 2015, she was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize. She currently lives in France.


'Emotionally punchy.'

- The Sunday Times

'The tragedies in Voices of the Lost are agonising...[a] searing prizewinner.'

- Madeleine Thien, Guardian

'Spare and deep, Voices of the Lost captivates. Hoda Barakat is one of Lebanon's greatest gifts to literature, and Booth allows her English audience to explore this painful and irresistible present.'

- Amy Bloom, author of White Houses

'An astonishing novel, superbly translated from the original Arabic, in which grave, naked confessions are delivered by characters orbiting in motion. It is a fierce, challenging exploration of the extremities of rootlessness and desperation, rendered in a shocking clarity of voice.'

- Leila Aboulela, author of Bird Summons

'Hoda Barakat's new novel reveals to us the many faces of power, war, love and despair as destinies mysteriously intersect, and all certainties are shaken. Through these letters, we glimpse the hidden story of immigration: characters condemned to suffer for nothing more than being born in the wrong place.'

- Jokha Alharthi, author of Celestial Bodies, winner of the Man Booker International Prize

'Drawing on the power of testimonial, Hoda Barakat's characters relate tales of loss, regret, and displacement. Beautifully written and filled with a raw, audacious honesty, these lost and found letters draw readers into an extraordinary embrace and refuse to let go.'

- Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Birds of Paradise

'Hoda Barakat is one of the most versatile and innovative novelists in the Arab world. Here, in a fugue of undelivered letters, she etches the portraits of a series of existential refugees, lost between countries, languages, and lives.'

- Marilyn Hacker, author of Blazons

'A subversive novel that examines sorrow, longing, violence, kindness, and compassion. The places may be named, but the protagonists are nameless. We love them because they are us.'

- Fady Joudah, author of Tethered to Stars

‘A writer for our times: her prose is at once reflective and morally astute. Her novels possess a gravity in their confident, thoughtful style that bursts with tension and profound emotion.'

- Mediapart

‘A short, deeply intense novel. A book of shadows which shows us the cracks threatening the modern Arab world.'

- France Culture

‘Anger, despair and passion are lyrically expressed...the beauty of her writing does nothing to detract from the candour of this narrative.'

- Livres Hebdo

‘Hoda Barakat offers a penetrating insight into the minds of people whose inner lives are all too often dismissed without a second thought.'

- L'Humanité

‘In a style that is by turns precise and sumptuous, Hoda Barakat... tirelessly explores themes of metamorphosis, of madness, of countries left behind, and of journeys with no hope of return.'

- Le Matricule des Anges

‘An immensely talented novelist.'

- Transfuge

'So many universal human themes are touched on in this outstanding novel that it is impossible in these few words to do them, or it, justice… Every one of us will find something in these pages that reflects our own experience… Though our paths may be different, we are all ultimately united in seeking truth, freedom, compassion and forgiveness.'

- New Internationalist

'This intense, raw and human novel which does not shy away from showing life's fallibilities, feels both hopeless and hopeful… [Barakat] isn't tone deaf to the tragedy the Middle East has recently seen nor does she believe it makes up one person's entire story and identity.'

- TheNewArab

'Voices of the Lost manages to pull off quite a feat. This is a novel about war, it is a political novel. It is also a novel about love, ranging from filial to romantic, abuse, trauma, fatherhood, motherhood, it's all in there. Like a piece of tapestry this novel weaves in themes, which create [a] multi-layered result… a one of a kind novel… [Booth's translation] is fantastic and captures the emotions of all the characters. Having won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, I would not be surprised to see it garner more awards this year.'

- The Bobsphere