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Thursday, January 09, 2003

Huda Orfali’s book projects.

I wrote the following reviews of Huda Orfali’s first two books. Huda was the first author to join my project The Acorn Gathering, a fiction anthology that raises money for cancer cure research. She wrote three of its stories.


Book review: Blue Fire by Huda Orfali

The character Marc (or, Marco) drifts through Orfali's stories, bringing hope and compassion to often hopeless or brutal situations. Orfali is the real Marc, in that she gives a devastatingly honest view of life's cruelty, yet brings optimism to that view. However, she does so without giving easy, contrived solutions. She also does so with charming characters and believable dialogue.

Her poems range from depictions of her Syrian homeland to scenes from treasured myths and legends. My favorite of the poems is "Flip, Flop." The narrator of that poem forces us to consider the results of violence, who is to blame for it, and who can help stop it; yet the poem also manages to surprise the reader. For that matter, Orfali's work is a constant surprise.

Book review: Flower in the Cold by Huda Orfali

Orfali's second book offers stories of people learning to deal with the harsh realities of life and death. Relying heavily on dialogue, Orfali shows people who must confront unexpected changes, including some tragic changes. The characters range from a ballerina, to a camera man, to a vampire.

One of my favorite selections is the title story, in which a father's letters help him examine his feelings about his son's illness.

Orfali gives realistic glimpses at the more difficult moments in people's lives. Still, she also celebrates the strength of human relationships and the protective love of parents for their children.

These stories reflect a deep understanding of human nature and a deep love for the written word.