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Chasing Shadows

by Leila Yusaf Chung

In the evening, Abu Fadi peeled oranges and apples and recounted stories of Palestine, orange groves and the house with the large wooden door that awaited their return. He pulled a black metal key out of his pocket and said, ‘See, children, this big key is to open our front door. I locked the house before I left. Everything is waiting for us in Palestine.

This is the story of Lavi, a middle-aged Polish Jew who, desperate to have children, flees his barren marriage and moves to British Palestine in 1945. He converts to Islam and is soon arranged to marry a beautiful young Palestinian girl, Keira. Months after the birth of their daughter, the Jewish state of Israel is created and Lavi and his young family are forced to settle amid the chaos of a refugee camp in Lebanon.

Eight years and three children later, Keira courts the attention of young men in the camp with her sultry beauty. Then one day she disappears, leaving her children with unreliable memories, the hope of her survival and the persistence of their fears.

Ajamia, Keira’s middle daughter, takes up the story – growing up in a Catholic orphanage in Beirut, the early years of civil war, her misadventures in France and her life in the mountains. But the ghosts of the past are close, and Ajamia returns to Beirut to find out the truth about her mother’s fate, her sister’s demise and settle once and for all the sins of the past.


01 May, 2014

About Leila Yusaf Chung

Leila Yusaf Chung was born in Lebanon and grew up in Beirut around the time it was called ‘the Paris of the Middle East'. For the past fifteen years Leila has worked in NGO posts associated with women's health, migrants and refugees. She is a strong advocate for humanitarian rights. Leila lives in Sydney and is the mother of two boys.  


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