2011 Oregon Book Awards Finalist (Sarah Winnemucca Award for Creative Nonfiction)
In Damascus a Muslim woman rises before dawn and performs a ritual washing before covering her head in prayer. A Kurdish man smiles with interest at the American researcher visiting his niece, but over time his smile turns to disapproval. A student from Damascus University invites her American friend home to break the fast and stay overnight in the village.
As part of an ethnographic research team, Lisa Ohlen Harris was able to see the true face of Damascus. A few years later, she returned to live in Jordan with her husband and small child. In Through the Veil, Harris provides a long and honest look at scenes usually hidden from Western eyes. The essays collected here dispel stereotypes, focusing on the real people of the Middle East.
Praise for Through the Veil
"With an ethnographer's trained eye and a poet's lyric tongue, Lisa Ohlen Harris travels to the Middle East where she finds, in a mosque, "tile after tile, the design of every square repeating the one next to it in a silent echo, lonely and lovely." Loneliness and loveliness pervade Harris's story as we journey with her to seek out answers in a land embraced by questions." - Brenda Miller, author of Season of the Body and Blessing of the Animals
"Captivating. 'Through' is the operative word in Through the Veil as Lisa Ohlen Harris--with curiosity and compassion--chronicles her unique contact with women of the Middle East. Beautifully orchestrated with honesty, insight, and humor, this book penetrates another culture and, at the same time, helps us understand what it is to be American, in the best sense of that word." - Judith Kitchen, author of Distance & Direction