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Tue June 11, 7-9pm
116 Third Ave., Ottawa
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Please join us for a celebratory evening of readings and discussion at the Ottawa book launch for The Allspice Bath by Sonia Saikaley.
Also featuring special guest authors Anita Kushwaha and Ian Thomas Shaw.
About The Allspice Bath
It is 1970. The evergreens are thick with snow despite it being the month of April. In an Ottawa hospital, another daughter is born to the Azar family. The parents are from Kfarmichki, a village in Lebanon but their daughters were born in Canada. Four daughters, to be precise. No sons. Youssef is the domineering father. Samira is the quiescent mother. Rima, Katrina and Mona are the traditional daughters. Then there is Adele, the newest member. "You should’ve been born a boy," Samira whispers to Adele shortly after her entrance into the world. As she grows, Adele learns there are certain rules Lebanese girls must follow in order to be good daughters. First off, they must learn to cook, master housework, learn Arabic and follow the traditions of their culture. Above all, they must save themselves for marriage. But Adele dreams of being an artist. When she is accepted to the University of Toronto, this is her chance to have a life outside the confines of her strict upbringing. But can she defy her father?
When Youssef surprises her with a family trip to her ancestral home, Adele is excited about the journey. In Lebanon, she meets Elias. He is handsome and intelligent and Adele develops feelings for him until Elias confides to her that her unexpected meeting with him was actually a well-devised plan that is both deceitful and shocking.Will this unravel the binding threads of this close-knit Lebanese family? Crisscrossing between Ottawa, Toronto and Lebanon, The Allspice Bath is a bold story about the cultural gap and the immigrant experience.
“With grace, precision, and honesty, Sonia Saikaley opens a door to reveal the inner workings of families that are both shaped and disrupted by immigration’s clash of cultures.”
—Dimitri Nasrallah, author of The Bleeds and Niko
“This lovely story will have you empathize and root for Adele, a young woman caught in the cultural crosshairs of her parents’ native country and their adopted land, who learns to listen closely and hear the strains of her brave new voice.”
—Shilpi Somaya Gowda, bestselling author of The Golden Son
Sonia Saikaley was born and raised in Ottawa to a large Lebanese family. The daughter of a shopkeeper, she had access to all the treats she wanted. Her first book, The Lebanese Dishwasher, co-won the 2012 Ken Klonsky Novella Contest. Her first collection of poetry, Turkish Delight, Montreal Winter, was published in 2012 and a second collection, A Samurai’s Pink House, was published in 2017 by Inanna Publications. She is currently working on a novel called Jasmine Season on Hamra Street. A graduate of the Humber School for Writers, she lives in her hometown of Ottawa. In the past, she worked as an English teacher in Japan.
Anita Kushwaha grew up in Aylmer, Quebec. Her road to publication included a fulfilling career in academia, where she studied human geography at Carleton University and earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. She is also a graduate of the Humber School for Writers creative writing program. Her first novel, Side by Side, won an Independent Publisher Book Awards Silver Medal for Multicultural Fiction in 2019. She is also the author of a novella, The Escape Artist. Her second novel, Caught in a Lie, will be published in 2020 by HarperCollins Canada. She lives in Ottawa.
Ian Thomas Shaw was born in Vancouver, British Columbia. For the last 34 years, he has worked as a diplomat and as an international development worker, living in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. His second novel, Quill of the Dove, published by Guernica Editions is a blend of literary fiction and political thriller set against the Lebanese Civil War and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The novel has been optioned by Original Pictures (Toronto) for a Television limited series. Shaw currently lives in Aylmer, Quebec and is the founder of Deux Voiliers Publishing, the Prose in the Park Literary Festival and the Ottawa Review of Books.