About the book
Princess, priestess, runaway, slave-girl, heiress, aquatic siren: women live thousands of lives in the flash fiction of Riham Adly, sometimes in the course of one story. A writer from modern Egypt, Adly reflects the complex reality of a world that can be both cosmopolitan and insular, a changing world where women risk new roles, but still struggle to push through family and cultural conditioning that tells them to ‘expect nothing, stay quiet, be smart’. The women in these stories ignore that advice. They expect everything, rebel, push boundaries, speak from the heart.
Love is Make Believe is produced by Clarendon House Publication in the UK and available on Kindle all over the world. 199 pages. You can find it at Amazon.
Excerpts from the book
Mezza for the Lonely
Everything is folded up and airy when I’m in love the first time. You walked into my shop with that lonely immigrant look on your face following the elusive chocolaty scents of brewing coffee soon to be served in my Arabian Nights demitasse. You stare ominously at the folding chairs and tables, at the wisps of Arabic among the paraphernalia of blonde heads and dark beards. For me it’s like knowing and not knowing a secret that isn’t a secret. I wondered if it was me or the mezza’s ancestral flavors that sparked your cardboard face back to life.
Published in New Flash Fiction Review
I’ve always wanted to go to one of those fancy-schmancy exhibition galleries, but because I can’t, a surrogate observer, in patent leather boots, colorless braids, and a patent leather jacket I always wanted to wear, is doing it for me.
People milling around here and there, admiring their own shadows, their attention fixates on each other’s conversations, the blonde waitress with free champagne, and the famous actress showing up last minute.
Light filters through the skylights above like the surprised wings of sparkling fireflies.
My surrogate observer goes straight to the paintings on display – three in total – the click-clack of her heels is swallowed by the muddle of discordant thought/desire burdens people wear like second skin.
Published in Litro
How to Tell a Story From the Heart in Proper Time
She catches the blare of the T.V. screen, eyes trailing after images of her husband lying dead in a mosque in the new country. Her water breaks and she’s giving birth to her son, the son she had to bear, from the man she had to wed. The water in Lake Wanaka has a ghostly sheen. All its fish walled off from her and her son and her brother and… She stares, hands on the T.V. screen, fearful/fearless. She’s been trying to get her son to pray regularly in the Mosque or even in Christ’s Church. The heart is what matters? No?
Published in Flash Frontier
“Big black dogs are djins. Didn’t they teach you that in religion class? We need to find a good sheikh to release you.”
I shuddered at the sound of “release.” It hissed in my ears. I remember how I felt then; first it was so unreal, like someone walking straight into a dream-like night-curved door, but after that when it started to sink in, I felt… discontinued, in a way I was like this ugly, misplaced tooth that had to be pulled out. This led to that state of separateness I would later embrace without ever letting go.
published in Flash Fiction Magazine
Why My Mother Loves the Color Black
Mama has dark brown eyes that she insists are black not brown. Mama wears black a lot: black flats, a black headscarf, a flowing black dress, but never the black kohl that once rimmed her gorgeous black/brown eyes. She drinks black tea, eats black currants and black rice.
I see her pray a lot under the Gemezah. Mama once told me the tree was an immigrant like us, it wasn’t supposed to grow in these parts. It was a sign that we should build our home in this very spot, which is now our two-story house with its diminutive, once thriving garden.
published in Volney Road Review
Please see Riham Adley’s translation of Tareq Imam’s story ‘The Eye’ on our story page this month, here.