January 2022 Indie Next List
“Wow. How to find words that convey just how beautifully written and heartbreaking this novel is. I held the book close to my chest as I read it slowly, taking time to absorb each chapter. This book needs to be read, loved, and shared broadly.”
— Stefanie Lynn, The Kennett Bookhouse, Kennett Square, PA
Exit West meets An American Marriage in this breathtaking and evocative novel about a young Syrian couple in the throes of new love, on the cusp of their bright future…when a travel ban rips them apart on the eve of their son’s birth—from the author of the “absorbing page-turner” (People) The Girls at 17 Swann Street.
Hadi and Sama are a young Syrian couple flying high on a whirlwind love, dreaming up a life in the country that brought them together. She had come to Boston years before chasing dreams of a bigger life; he’d landed there as a sponsored refugee from a bloody civil war. Now, they are giddily awaiting the birth of their son, a boy whose native language would be freedom and belonging.
When Sama is five months pregnant, Hadi’s father dies suddenly in Jordan, the night before his visa appointment at the embassy. Hadi flies back for the funeral, promising his wife that he’ll only be gone for a few days. On the day his flight is due to arrive in Boston, Sama is waiting for him at the airport, eager to bring him back home. But as the minutes and then hours pass, she continues to wait, unaware that Hadi has been stopped at the border and detained for questioning, trapped in a timeless, nightmarish limbo.
Worlds apart, suspended between hope and disillusion as hours become days become weeks, Sama and Hadi yearn for a way back to each other, and to the life they’d dreamed up together. But does that life exist anymore, or was it only an illusion?
Achingly intimate yet poignantly universal, No Land to Light On is the story of a family caught up in forces beyond their control, fighting for the freedom and home they found in one another.
About the Author
Yara Zgheib is the author of No Land to Light On and the critically acclaimed The Girls at 17 Swann Street, which was a People Pick for Best New Books and a BookMovement Group Read. She is a Fulbright scholar with a master’s degree in security studies from Georgetown University and a PhD in international affairs in diplomacy from Centre d’Études Diplomatiques et Stratégiques in Paris. Learn more at YaraZgheib.com.
“Zgheib writes so lyrically about rootlessness, separation and a fierce longing for home that it makes the tragedy of war that much easier to bear. Sama and Hadi will always hold a special place in my heart.”
— Alka Joshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Henna Artist and The Secret Keeper of Jaipur
“A masterful story of tragedy and redemption, an entire history told through the prism of a single Syrian couple, beginning and ending with love.”
— Hala Alyan, award-winning author of Salt Houses and The Arsonists' City
“In elegant prose, Zgheib skillfully mingles her protagonists’ memories with a nail-biting account of their 2017 ordeal to craft a narrative rich in metaphors and complex, believable characters.”
— The Washington Post
“Written in soul-searing prose, No Land to Light On is an essential, compassionate story.”
— BookPage (starred)
“Zgheib has created a tense, moving novel about the meaning of home, the risks of exile, the power of nations, and the power of love.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Readers will enjoy Zgheib’s story of hope and perseverance.”
— Publishers Weekly