Layla has recently moved out of her parents’ home in the Atlanta suburbs and into an apartment in the city to assert her independence. Between her job as a feature writer for a small newspaper and her social life, Layla has little time to think about marriage and children, much to the dismay of her Lebanese parents.
On a hilarious journey that takes Layla from the Southeast to the Middle East and back, she finds out a little more about herself and what she is looking for in life and in love.
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by Maya Nessouli Abbashouli
The Message behind Middle South
One of the main things I want for readers of Middle South to take away is that Lebanon is a beautiful place with a rich culture and wonderfully diverse people. Unfortunately, the West has an unsavory perception of people from the Middle East and the Muslim religion. The media is saturated with images of fundamentalist, radicalized Arabs. That is a very small slice of the pie.
In Lebanon, the population is made up of Shiite Muslims, Sunni Muslims, Druze, Christians and a host of other sects. There are traditional and liberal people, churches, mosques, nightclubs, and restaurants. Often the Muslim call to prayer is followed by church bells, which are followed by a yelling street vendor selling roasted corn on the cob. You can find a beach with covered women next to a beach with men and women in tiny swimsuits. It is a country of contradictions and beautiful traditions. I hope the reader will realize that Lebanon—and Beirut specifically—is not a war-torn land of terrorists.
Also, Layla’s family is a typical immigrant family. Most Arabs come into the United States to become valuable, productive members of society. They come here looking for opportunity and security. They assimilate into the fabric of American life while trying desperately to hold on to their traditions. The beauty of America is its diverse citizenship. It is a country of immigrants looking to make it their home. Layla’s family is a good example of that.
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Meet Maya Nessouli Abboushi
Maya Nessouli Abboushi is a Lebanese American born and raised in the United States. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and three children. This is her first novel.