This, Palestinian journalist Raba'i Al-Madhoun's debut novel, was shortlisted for the Arabic Booker Prize in 2010; this new translation is the winner of the English Pen Award.
Al-Madhoun was born in 1945 in Al-Madjal, in Palestine, near Ashkelon in modern-day Israel. In many ways, The Lady from Tel Aviv is the story of his own life.
The novel's outline is relatively simple and prosaic: 57-year-old Walid Dahman returns to Gaza to be reunited with his mother 38 years after leaving. Married to an Englishwoman, Dahman makes the trip on his British passport and the character's own novel, a work-in-progress, is altered by the experiences of the trip.
Most of the compelling narrative comes in the book's last 50 pages, when Dahman finally gains access to Gaza and the family and friends who have until now resided mostly in memory.
There is some lovely description in the book and some classic dialogue from his abrasive mother. Yet too much of the reader's time is spent waiting for the adult Walid to arrive onto the scene and reading about his early life borders on the tedious.