Tuesday, 23 January 2018

My Name Is Salma by Fadia Faqir

My Name Is Salma by Fadia Faqir
First published by Doubleday in March 2007.

M for my 2018 Alphabet Soup Challenge

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Salma becomes pregnant before marriage in her small village in the Levant, her innocent days playing the pipe for her goats are gone for ever. She is swept into prison for her own protection. To the sound of her screams, her newborn baby daughter is snatched away.

In the middle of the most English of towns, Exeter, she learns good manners from her landlady, and settles down with an Englishman. But deep in her heart the cries of her baby daughter still echo. When she can bear them no longer, she goes back to her village to find her. It is a journey that will change everything - and nothing.

Slipping back and forth between the olive groves of the Levant and the rain-slicked pavements of Exeter, My Name is Salma is a searing portrayal of a woman's courage in the face of insurmountable odds.

I loved the non-linear narrative in this novel which swirls between Salma's different lives in the Levant, in a Lebanese convent, and in England. I felt the device gave a wonderful sense of her confusion and sense of alienation. A seemingly innocuous sight or scent sends her mind wandering into poignant memories of a home to which she can no longer return. Salma is a complex character. I enjoyed spending time with her and understanding her dreams and ambitions, yet I often didn't like how she acted. My Name Is Salma is an interesting novel for its genre in that it doesn't overly glamorise British life or villify life in the Middle East. Both are presented as having their good points and their grim sides. The descriptions of Exeter are frequently very depressing and remarkably accurate!

I liked that Salma's struggles with fitting into a new society and learning the English language are sensitively portrayed. Her landlady, Liz, embodies much of the traditional British nostalgia for a 'glorious' and entitled past and attitudes such as her exploitation by her BNP supporting employer show a disturbing level of hypocrisy. Salma's longing for her vanished child is a strong theme throughout the novel and I thought this part of the storyline's resolution was perhaps the least convincing aspect. However I could understand why Faqir chose to conclude her novel like this. From a literary perspective it works although I wondered how genuine such a scenario would be.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Fadia Faqir / Contemporary fiction / Books from Jordan


  1. Even though you didn't always agree with what the main character was doing, it sounds like you could appreciate her struggles and how she was in all these different situations. I really like the sound of the non-linear narration here too, and it seems like it works best for this novel and its themes.

    1. I could always understand why she acted as she did, even though I frequently didn't want her to be so self destructive