"A surprisingly quiet and thoughtful novel, My Friends examines the power of meaningful relationships as they unfold across lifetimes. Khaled is a young man when he first leaves his home in Benghazi to study abroad in Edinburgh, full of potential and dreams. Within moments, everything that he and his family envisioned for his future is shattered by an act of striking political violence, leaving him and his peers exiled and alone in a foreign country. Forever severed from his homeland and his previous life, he must forge new goals and new connections with his found family - other exiled artists and activists like himself. Though he’ll grapple with this displacement for the rest of his life, he’ll also find new sources of strength and acceptance through his new friends."
One evening, as a young boy growing up in Benghazi, Khaled hears a bizarre short story read aloud on the radio, about a man being eaten alive by a cat, and has the sense that his life has been changed forever. Obsessed by the power of those words—and by their enigmatic author, Hosam Zowa—Khaled eventually embarks on a journey that will take him far from home, to pursue a life of the mind at the University of Edinburgh.
There, thrust into an open society that is miles away from the world he knew in Libya, Khaled begins to change. He attends a protest against the Qaddafi regime in London, only to watch it explode into tragedy. In a flash, Khaled finds himself injured, clinging to life, unable to leave Britain, much less return to the country of his birth. To even tell his mother and father back home what he has done, on tapped phone lines, would expose them to danger.
When a chance encounter in a hotel brings Khaled face-to-face with Hosam Zowa, the author of the fateful short story, he is subsumed into the deepest friendship of his life. It is a friendship that not only sustains him but eventually forces him, as the Arab Spring erupts, to confront agonizing tensions between revolution and safety, family and exile, and how to define his own sense of self against those closest to him.
A devastating meditation on friendship and family, and the ways in which time tests—and frays—those bonds, My Friends is an achingly beautiful work of literature by an author working at the peak of his powers.