The Philistine

Leila Marshy

March 2018

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. 

$19.95 | ISBN: 9781988130705

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What they say
Superior writer of fiction
Ian Thomas Shaw, Ottawa Review of Books

Leila Marshy's The Philistine, is "eloquently told in impeccable prose." The first review for Leila's wonderful first novel! 
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March 2018, Ottawa Review of Books

 


Lyrical but keen-eyed
Danielle Barkley, Montreal Review of Books

"Nadia’s recognition that her sexuality is more fluid than she had previously understood reinforces that perhaps everything about her is likewise mutable. Marshy’s controlled prose underscores this complexity: “‘I guess I’ll stay in Cairo as long as it takes.’ Then [Nadia] added, realizing it could be anything: ‘Whatever it is.’” The beauty of The Philistine is the novel’s ability to recognize and celebrate journeying across places and into one’s self, even when the destination is perpetually shifting. 
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March 2018, Montreal Review of Books


This is a terrific book
Richard King, CBC

Richard King reviews The Philistine on CBC Homerun and then tweets: 
@cbcHomerun we raved about Leila Marshy's novel The Philistine a beautifully written novel set in Cairo. Readers will love Nadia as she navigates the Cairine art scene on a voyage of self-discovery. @haikuboxer @LL_Publishing
To listen to the complete review go here
April 2018


Addresses themes of identity, sexuality, dispossession, privilege with care and sensitivity
Piali Roy, Quill & Quire

Marshy covers a lot of ground, from the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to the Palestine Red Crescent Society’s list of injured Palestinians to a tourist’s view of the Pyramids. But the push-pull claims of identity dominate the novel. Marshy captures the dissonance of Nadia’s feelings – being at home with Egyptian culture yet simultaneously guilty for her lack of fluency in Arabic... Despite the passionate love affair between Nadia and Manal, the novel keeps its emo­tions in check. What The Philistine does, instead, is address themes of identity, sexuality, dispossession, and privilege with care and sensitivity.
Read full review here.
June 2018, Quill & Quire

 


Tyrants and rebels on the bookshelves
Jade Colbert, Globe and Mail

Leila Marshy's The Philistine also explores gay identity within a Muslim community, here in late 1980s Cairo. The daughter of a Palestinian man livingin exile since he was a young boy, 25-year old Nadia Eid trvels to Egypt in search of her father, only to find ralities she could remain blind to at home in Montreal. In Cairo she also meets Manal, a young Egyptian artist trying to break into the Western art market. Set against the backdrop of Hosni Mubarak's regime and the First Intifada, Marshy's is a bittersweet story of barriers and restricitons, which ones can only bend for now and which ones can break.
See the review here.
November 2018, Globe and Mail 


A five-star debut
James Fisher, Miramichi Reader

A sensitive, artistically wrought story on several levels, The Philistine had me eager to return to it time after time. It was one of those reads that turned out better than expected, although I certainly didn’t have low expectations for it. One never knows with a first novel. Will it be interesting and well-written enough that you want to read the author’s next book? Or do you hope (or even care if) the author never writes another word? I can definitely state that The Philistine and Ms. Marshy fall into the first category. A five-star debut and The Philistine goes on the 2019 longlist for a “The Very Best!” Book Award in both the Fiction and First Book categories.
Read full review here.
November 2018, Miramichi Reader

 


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