Voices of the Lost
Winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction 2019Hoda Barakat
‘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 * Longlisted for the DUBLIN Literary Award, 2022
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
'The tragedies in Voices of the Lost are agonising...[a] searing prizewinner.'
'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.'
'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.'
'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.'
'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.'
'Marilyn Booth captures the starkness of Voices of the Lost… It isn't surprising that two of the most interesting authors to write about the migrant crises of the last ten years were subjects of earlier waves of displacement.'
'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.'
'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.'
‘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.’
‘A short, deeply intense novel. A book of shadows which shows us the cracks threatening the modern Arab world.’
‘Anger, despair and passion are lyrically expressed...the beauty of her writing does nothing to detract from the candour of this narrative.’