Head Above Water by Shahd Alshammari

Non-fiction personal memoir by Shahd Alshammari; those who survive know that there is a story to tell

Head Above Water takes us into a space of intimate conversations on illness and society’s stigmatization of disabled bodies. We are invited in to ask the big questions about life, loss, and the place of the other. The narrative builds a bridge that reminds us of our common humanity and weaves the threads that tie us all together. Through conversations about women’s identities, bodies, and our journeys through life, we arrive at a politics of love, survival, and hope.

Shahd Alshammari’s sensuous prose explores the manipulation of memory, the question of time, and gender politics. We are invited to reconsider the intricacies of love, the body, motherhood, the pervasive power of language, the power of women’s education, and the synergy between the Professor and the student.” – Jokha Alharthi Omani author of Celestial bodies, winner of the International Man Booker Prize (2019)

“Reading Alshammari’s work, I thought continually of Yeats’s famous line, “a terrible beauty is born.” In this book, illness is that terrible beauty, always affecting but never determining the author’s life.” – Arthur W. Frank, Ph.D. Author of At the Will of the Body and The Wounded Storyteller

“A necessary and beautiful account of life with a sometimes-invisible and unpredictable disability, complicated by both patriarchy and racism, as well as a professor’s love letter to the act of teaching and being taught.” – Marcia Lynx Qualey (@Arablit)

Shahd Alshammari has Multiple Sclerosis and is a Kuwaiti-Palestinian author and academic. After gaining her PhD in the UK, she became an Assistant Professor of Literature in Kuwait. Her research interests focus on women with mental illness in literature. Alshammari is especially interested in the concept of hybridity, having been born to a Bedouin father and a Palestinian mother. She is also interested in Disability Studies and the correlation of disability studies with identity in the Arab world, having been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 18.

*Head Above Water by Shahd Alshammari published by Neem Tree Press