Books·Canadian

Daughters of Silence

Daughters of Silence is a novel by Rebecca Fisseha.

Rebecca Fisseha

Ash from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano fills the skies. Flights are grounded throughout Europe. Dessie, a cosmopolitan flight attendant from Canada, finds herself stranded in Addis Ababa — her birth place.

Grieving her mother's recent death, Dessie heads to see her grandfather, the Shaleqa — compelled as much by duty as her own will. But Dessie's conflicted past stands in her way. Just as the volcano's eruption disordered Dessie's work life, so too does her mother's death cause seismic disruptions in the fine balance of self-deceptions and false histories that uphold her family.

As Dessie reacquaints herself with her grandfather's house, familiar yet strangely alien to her diasporic sensibilities, she pieces together the family secrets: the trauma of dictatorship and civil war, the shame of unwed motherhood and the abuse met with silence that gives shape to the mystery of her mother's life. (From Goose Lane Editions)

Rebecca Fisseha is a writer who was born in Ethiopia and now lives in Canada. Daughters of Silence is her debut novel.

Why Rebecca Fisseha wrote Daughters of Silence

"Daughters of Silence was inspired by my late mother being buried abroad and how that made me uncomfortable. I questioned how that decision was made. Considering this is the first experience among my family, as we had never lived outside of Ethiopia before, it had always been my assumption that we would eventually return back there.

"The novel was inspired by the permanence of this situation. I think funerals bring out either the best or the worst in us. I know many families who get into a huge quarrel and then end up not speaking to each other. They dig up a lot of buried resentments, hurts and secrets.

I realized that I wanted to explore the many silences in my family experience, with regards to death and burial practices.- Rebecca Fisseha

"It gave me a lot to ponder and try to work out through writing. My novel fictionalizes aspects of my situation of course. This is a 'What if?' narrative."

Read more in her interview with CBC Books.

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