Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Enter Ghost

by Isabella Hammad

A bold, evocative new novel from the Sue Kaufman, Betty Trask and Plimpton Prize Award winner Isabella Hammad that follows actress Sonia as she returns to Palestine and takes a role in a West Bank production of Hamlet

  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 336
  • Publication Date April 04, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6238-0
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $28.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Publication Date April 04, 2023
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6239-7
  • US List Price $28.00

“Isabella Hammad is a master of subtle nuance.”—New York Times

After years away from her family’s homeland, and reeling from a disastrous love affair, actress Sonia Nasir returns to Haifa to visit her older sister Haneen. This is her first trip back since the second intifada and the deaths of their grandparents: while Haneen made a life here commuting to Tel Aviv to teach at the university, Sonia remained in London to focus on her acting career and now dissolute marriage. On her return, she finds her relationship to Palestine is fragile, both bone-deep and new.

At Haneen’s, Sonia meets the charismatic and candid Mariam, a local director, and finds herself roped into a production of Hamlet in the West Bank. Sonia is soon rehearsing Gertude’s lines in Classical Arabic and spending more time in Ramallah than Haifa, along with a dedicated group of men from all over historic Palestine who, in spite of competing egos and priorities, each want to bring Shakespeare to that side of the wall. As opening night draws closer it becomes clear just how many violent obstacles stand before a troupe of Palestinian actors. Amidst it all, the life Sonia once knew starts to give way to the daunting, exhilarating possibility of finding a new self in her ancestral home.

A stunning rendering of present-day Palestine, Enter Ghost is a story of diaspora, displacement, and the connection to be found in family and shared resistance. Timely, thoughtful, and passionate, Isabella Hammad’s highly anticipated second novel is an exquisite feat, an unforgettable story of artistry under occupation.

Tags Literary

Praise for Enter Ghost:

New York Times Editor’s Choice

“Terrific… Enter Ghost though contemporary, is thoroughly infused with Palestine’s past — and thoroughly haunted by Sonia’s. Hammad, who is both a delicate writer and an exact one, intertwines the two, taking care to give Sonia as many personal ghosts as she does historical ones.… Indeed, the novel seems to argue, real growth and connection, both political and personal, cannot begin until everyone’s ghosts have emerged from hiding. Art is, if nothing else, a powerful tool for coaxing them out.”—New York Times Book Review

“[Hammad] is at once able to trace broad social and historical terrains without losing her grasp of particulars, giving a surgical finesse to her writing about the human personality. Her style is often labeled ‘exquisite.’ These skills put her in the company of other postcolonial literary novelists such as Ahdaf Soueif and Abraham Verghese.”—Washington Post

“Assured and formidable.”—Wall Street Journal

“Hammad’s prose is just as exquisite and wise as her main character.”—Bustle

“Magnificent, deeply imagined… a thought-provoking, engrossing story about the connections to be found in art, politics and family life.”—The Times (UK)

Enter Ghost is a novel to savour rather than steam through — not least because it feels completely different to anything else being written right now in English, a heartfelt meditation on the relationship between art and politics. The story unfurls with a slow delicacy and Hammad sustains tension without resorting to cheap suspense… When you surrender to her writing, everything else falls away.”—Sunday Times (UK)

Enter Ghost takes you deep inside the protagonist’s experience while opening a wider window on to life for Palestinians and their exhausting day-to-day struggles. Hammad explores this setting with intelligence and a fine-grained specificity… A richly layered novel.”—The Guardian

“A thorough and thoughtful exploration of the role of art in the political arena.”—Kirkus, starred review

“Hammad is a pretty flawless writer who, despite her harrowing and often intellectually complex subject matter, produces easily readable, human, generous work. Young adults and mature intellectual readers alike will get behind Sonia’s struggles with relationships, work, family and self-image, which are instantly recognisable and perfectly parsed.”—Times (UK)

“[A] soul-stirring and dramatic tale of a Palestinian family’s exile and reconciliation. . . . The layered text, rich in languages and literary references, dives deep into Sonia’s consciousness, illustrating her hopes for what art can accomplish. This deeply human work will stay with readers.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Hammad’s enthralling second novel expertly navigates tensions in present-day Arab-Israeli relations with rare literary grace and insight… Exquisitely illuminated by the author’s tender writing, Sonia’s experience of the daily tectonic strain between occupier and occupied, a ‘throwback to the intifada summers of [her] adolescence,’ leads to a new, deeper appreciation of her ancient heritage and her natural place in it.”—Shelf Awareness

“Hammad’s characters contend with displacement, ancestral home, authenticity, and the shimmering possibility of finding yourself in unlikely places. Sisterhood, soul-searching, and Shakespeare—what more could you ask for?”—Literary Hub, Most Anticipated Books of 2023

“A lyrical meditation on Palestinian endurance, the role of theater as political protest, and the undeniable pull of home.”—Booklist

Enter Ghost is a masterful, deeply convincing portrait of the all-too-real consequences of political theater—in both senses. A moving and important novel that presses upon the urgent question of how we ought to live in the midst of the rubble (and ongoing chaos) of political crisis.”—Namwali Serpell, author of The Furrows

“There is so much to be said about this book: beautifully written, poignant yet forceful, thoughtful and thought provoking, but above all challenging, challenging the reader to respond to the question facing the characters in the novel: how to live under occupation while preserving your dignity and humanity? Hammad answers this question through taking us into the hearts and minds of the characters in the novel and through that into the heart and mind of Palestine.”—Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran

“Outstanding. Next-level. Aesthetically, intellectually, emotionally and culturally satisfying. It is astonishing but true that Isabella Hammad is incapable of striking a false note. She immerses her heroine in volatile territory with the accuracy, compassion and coolness of a surgical knife sliding into a diseased body. The result is a stunning beauty — an eye-opening, uplifting novel that grants its vulnerable cast and their endeavors a rare and graceful dignity.”—Leila Aboulela, author of River Spirit

Praise for The Parisian:

“Dazzling… A deeply imagined historical novel with none of the usual cobwebs of the genre… The Parisian has an up-close immediacy and stylistic panache… that are all the more impressive coming from a London-born writer still in her 20s… Exquisite.”—New York Times Book Review

“Assured and captivating… Ms. Hammad’s acute evocation of place and personality ensures that we are never lost… This agile writer sets us firmly in place, fixing our attention on intersecting lives.”—Wall Street Journal

“Hammad is a natural storyteller… The Parisian teems with riches – love, war, betrayal and madness – and marks the arrival of a bright new talent.”—Guardian

“Stunning…a lush rendering of Palestinian life a century ago under the British mandate and a sumptuous epic about the enduring nature of love.”Vogue

“Epic… Because the book takes place in the complicated time and spaces that it does, the narrative grapples with sociopolitical concerns as well as it does the intimate, human ones. It sweeps you along.”—Vanity Fair

“Lavish, leisurely and immersive.”—Economist

“Hammad is a writer of startling talent.”―Observer

“Hammad uses the features of historical novels to cut through the familiar dichotomies of West and Near East, placing her protagonist in a rich web of families, political intrigues, and cultural exchanges, and subtly reconfiguring the literary tropes of ‘home’ and ‘abroad.’”—New Yorker