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by Shaimaa Khalil

The story of an unlikely friendship between two women from opposite ends of the African continent "We don’t choose where we're born. Geography ends up being everything."

Hardie Grant Books
Publish Date
May 2022

Shaimaa Khalil and Shelley Davidow met twenty years ago in the Middle East when Shaimaa was Shelley's student at the University of Qatar. Strangers in a strange land where the silencing and oppression of women is deeply entrenched, they immediately formed a deep and abiding bond. Shelley saw Shaimaa as her "Rosetta Stone", helping her decode a culture and world so foreign it appeared to be from another planet. Shaimaa saw Shelley and her apartment as her "Tardis", a space where she could glimpse a world she dreamed of inhabiting. Born a decade apart on opposite ends of the African continent – Shaimaa, an Arab Muslim from Egypt and Shelley an Ashkenazi Jew from South Africa – tell the story of a friendship that has defied historical, geographic and temporal boundaries, mapping the vast emotional and geographic territories they have travelled as women pushing against patriarchal confines over the past two decades. In an exchange of words and memories, Shaimaa and Shelley recall what shaped them, what broke them, and how they made themselves whole again through their interwoven stories.

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