The Leafy Tree
Omaima Abdullah Al-Khamis
In The Leafy Tree (Dar Al-Mada, Damascus, 2009), Umaima Al-Khamis allows her heroine Jawhara to take control of the narrative, as if to compensate for the constraints placed upon the author by society. Jawhara works in a hospital in the centre of Riyadh and it is through her work that she meets Adrienne, a European colleague, who opens up the world to her with his stories. It seems as though she is only able to live through the life of ‘the other’, even if that other is other is a Jewish doctor she met in Toronto. The narrative cleverly weaves together the details of her private life, such as her relationship with her family at home, with the very different environment of the workplace and, most importantly, the daydreams through which Jawhara often lives a parallel life.