“Malu Halasa is one of the most original writers and editors covering the Middle East ... witty, sumptuous and genuinely revelatory. ”

The New Statesman

Mother of All Pigs

Malu Halasa

Mother of All Pigs unveils contemporary life in the Middle East, as one family confronts its secrets over the course of a weekend’s festivities. Told from alternating points of view, Halasa’s debut novel is at times witty and energetic, compassionate and awe-inspiring, and over all, unputdownable.

The Sabas family lives in a small Jordanian town that for centuries has been descended upon by all manner of invader, the latest a scourge of disconcerting Evangelical tourists. The border town relies on a blackmarket trade of clothes, trinkets , and appliances — the quality of which depends entirely on who’s fighting — but the conflict in nearby Syria has the place even more on edge than usual. 

Meanwhile, the Sabas home is ruled by women — Mother Fadhma, Laila, Samira, and now, Muna, a niece visiting from America for the first time — and it is brimming with regrets and desires. Clandestine pasts in love, politics, even espionage, threaten the delicate balance of order in the household, as generations clash.

The family’s ostensible patriarch — Laila’s husband Hussein — enjoys no such secrets, not  in his family or in town,  where Hussein is known as the Levant’s only pig butcher, dealing in chops, sausages, and hams, much to the chagrin of his observant neighbors. 

When a long-lost soldier from Hussein's military past arrives, the Sabas clan must decide whether to protect or expose him, bringing long-simmering rivalries and injustices to the surface. Enchanting and fearless, Halasa's prose intertwines the lives of three generations of women as they navigate the often stifling, sometimes absurd realities of everyday life in the Middle East.  

Cover art: Haphazard Synchronizations: Majd Masri, YAYA2016

Praise for Mother of All Pigs

"Malu Halasa has a mind like an octopus. She reaches in all directions and in 'Mother of All Pigs', her first novel, she pulls together more characters and plotlines than most writers would dream of. You could say 'Mother of All Pigs' is a novel about defiance, or innovation, or emigration, or family. You could say it’s about Christianity or Islam or the Syrian civil war. You could say it’s about feminism. You could say it’s about a pig. No matter what, you’d be right. It’s an ambitious novel, and a fun one. Halasa’s got a great sense of humor to go with her wide-ranging interests and expertise, and the combination makes 'Mother of All Pigs' a delight to read. "
Lily Meyer, Politics & Prose