In his masterpiece The Cat Who Taught Me How to Fly, Hashem Gharaibeh tells the moving story of a political prisoner during Jordan’s martial law era, which spanned from 1967 to 1989. Gharaibeh defies the taboos of politics, sex, and religion to tell a thrilling and brutally honest story about the horrors and insanities of everyday life in an Arab prison. At once both a novel and an autobiography, the author draws from his own experiences as a Jordanian youth arrested and imprisoned for nearly a decade for his affiliation with the Jordanian Communist Party. The novel uniquely portrays prison culture intertwined with tribal, ideological, and political perspectives to explain both mundane and esoteric aspects of prison life in this time and era, illustrating an experience that is traumatic, humane, and inspiring. A heartwrenching story of learning, survival, and the quest for the freedom of thought is told with powerful defiance and grace, exposing us to human frailty, strength, and one man’s dream to soar beyond the walls of prison, society, and self.
“This is a genuine novel. It presents the experience of political prisoners without embellishment, realistically revealing the intensity of torture, oppression, and agony that the prisoners face with shocking honesty and bold intensity. Gharaibeh seamlessly merges his political experience with that of ordinary people and provides us with a human encounter that deserves to be read and celebrated on a global scale.”
—Sameer Qatami, member of the Jordanian Writer’s Society and former Professor of Arabic Literature, University of Jordan