Nadia Eid doesn't know it yet, but she's about to change her life. It's the end of the ‘80s and she hasn’t seen her Palestinian father since he left Montreal years ago to take a job in Egypt, promising to bring her with him. But now she’s twenty-five and he’s missing in action, so she takes matters into her own hands. Booking a short vacation from her boring job and Québecois boyfriend, she calls her father from the Nile Hilton in downtown Cairo. But nothing goes as planned and, stumbling around, Nadia wanders into an art gallery where she meets Manal, a young Egyptian artist who becomes first her guide and then her lover.
Through this unexpected relationship, Nadia rediscovers her roots, her language, and her ambitions, as her father demonstrates the unavoidable destiny of becoming a Philistine – the Arabic word for Palestinian. With Manal’s career poised to take off and her father’s secret life revealed, the First Intifada erupts across the border.
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“Leila Marshy beautifully captures what it's like to be at once deeply rooted and displaced, fiercely committed to truth, while enabling the lies that lovers tell. A sweet and bitter coming-of-age story that spans – and transgresses – sexuality, culture, and countries.”
– Ann-Marie MacDonald (Fall on Your Knees, The Way the Crow Flies)
"Leila Marshy illuminates love and identity in the streets of Cairo in a way that makes you feel you’ve watched her scenes through a high-definition kaleidoscope.”
– Kathleen Winter (Annabel, Lost in September)
“This accomplished first novel gives us the vibrant story of Nadia’s passionate love affair with an Egyptian woman, which compels Nadia to stay in the city long enough to rediscover her father and herself. The novel delicately hints at the societal tensions that will lead to the 2011 Egyptian Revolution while depicting a rich and surprising Cairo rarely seen.”
– Leilah Nadir (The Orange Trees of Baghdad)
Montrealer Leila Marshy is of Palestinian-Newfoundland heritage—she can tell a good joke, but it bombs. She has been a filmmaker, a baker, an app designer, a marketer, a farmer, and editor of online culture journal Rover Arts. She founded the Friends of Hutchison Street, a groundbreaking community group bringing Hasidic and non-Hasidic neighbours together in dialogue. She has published stories and poetry in Canadian and American journals and anthologies. The Philistine is her first novel.