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Head Above Water: A Memoir of Shahd Alshammari’s Life, Triumph and Resistance

Head Above Water by Shahd Alshammari

A Book Review by Dr. Ramzi Salti, Stanford University

In Head Above Water, Shahd Alshammari shares her deeply personal and thought-provoking journey of triumph and resilience, offering readers an intimate glimpse into her life as a woman marginalized by society and fueled by her passion for literature. This philosophical memoir delves into themes of disability, displacement, and the quest for belonging, encompassing not only physical challenges but also cultural, gender, and racial dynamics. Throughout the book, Alshammari imparts profound wisdom that resonates on a philosophical level.

What sets this memoir apart is the remarkable fact that it is based on the author's diagnosis of multiple sclerosis at the tender age of eighteen when her neurologist grimly informs her that she would not live past thirty. However, defying all odds and expectations, she not only surpasses that milestone but also becomes a professor of literature. Her journey takes her through navigating educational systems in both Kuwait and the United Kingdom, leaving an indelible impact on generations of students.

Head Above Water is a poignant and unique memoir that captures the essence of Alshammari's indomitable spirit. It serves as an inspiration for readers, shedding light on the power of determination and the resilience of the human spirit. Alshammari's exploration of disability, displacement, and the search for belonging resonates deeply, inviting readers to reflect on their own experiences and engage in meaningful introspection. With her insightful prose and astute observations, Alshammari crafts a compelling narrative that leaves a lasting impact.

Shad Alshammari, author of  Head Above Water

As a Kuwaiti-Palestinian author and academic, Shahd Alshammari brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her writing. Besides Head Above Water, she has also authored Notes on the Flesh and contributed to numerous academic publications and papers. Her research interests span illness narratives, disability studies, and exploring the complexities of identity and language in the Arab world.

Head Above Water is published by The Feminist Press at CUNY and will be officially released on July 18, 2023. You can pre-order your copy on Amazon and almost anywhere books are sold.


Everyone is invited to join us for this event. RSVP required.

A Book Talk with Author Shahd Alshammari moderated by Dr. Ramzi Salti.
Tuesday, July 18, 2023
Virtual Event, RSVP
9am PST, 5pm London, 7pm Kuwait/Jordan

Read more about this event at this link. Supported by Stanford's Abbasi Program.

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