Who Will Cheer up the Lady?

Mahmoud al-Rimawy

After the last of her children has flown the nest, the widow Umm Zurqa finds herself alone with no one to relieve her solitude except Umm Auni, her neighbour and life-long friend, and a strange tortoise she discovers in the street. The tortoise becomes her singular obsession and a number of questions arise: will people think she has lost her mind? Is it acceptable to keep a tortoise?  And what will her children think of this small creature when they come to visit her? Who Will Cheer up the Lady? is told through the voices of the narrator, the apprehensive old widow, her neighbour Umm Auni – who witnesses her madness – and lastly the grave voice of the tortoise.


2010 Longlist