A Last Breath Before It’s All Over

A Last Breath Before It’s All Over
(working title)
شهيق طويل قبل أن ينتهي كل شيء
(Shahiq tawil qabla an yantahi kul shay)

Written by

(هشام البستاني)

Published by


An exquisite scream of clever rage at the contemporary moment

Composed of 32 short stories and divided into four sections, A Last Breath Before It’s All Over trains an unflinching eye on critical issues of our time – including refugees, ecology, the patriarchy, and nuclear threat. Bursting with literary hybrids, the book engages an array of techniques, ranging from internalised first-person narratives to wide-angle cinematic descriptions.
The four sections – the Book of Drowning, the Book of Horror, the Book of Indolence, and the Book of Desperation – take us from the private infernos of contemporary Arab life to the public myths that govern them, engaging themes of the home, consumerism and colonialism along the way. In one story, children are left alone in a car, frying under the merciless summer sun; in another, the sea is transformed from a symbol of tranquility into an insurmountable barrier.

Approximate number of pages: 120p.

Foreign rights: contact the author


Translation samples

Reasons to publish this book

Hisham Bustani’s groundbreaking work is in a class of its own in Arabic letters. An interdisciplinary artist with a unique style, this radical contemporary voice breaks the mould and pushes Arabic literary language into fertile new ground. This book also expands on the author’s acclaimed interest in literary hybrids: short story meets prose poetry, with the capacity to generate multiple meanings and outcomes and formulate questions rather than provide answers.


Prizes and awards


Not Lost in Translation—An Interview with Jordanian Author and Activist Hisham Bustani in Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), June 2022

Bustani’s writing is a solace to those who have no solace” (in Arabic) in Al Akhbar, September 2018

Bustani continues to dismantle the apparent calm which we surrender to in our daily lives… The prose here resembles refracting sunrays on a single point of burning attention, a focal writing that brings us to a moment of explosion… At an imaginary end of the world, the texts of this book are born” (in Arabic) in Al Araby Al Jadeed, February 2018

With remarkable artistry, Bustani engages the compound tragedies of immigration, drowning in the Mediterranean, and the treatment of refugees in the homelands they fled, and the countries where they think their future lies” (in Arabic) in Al Ra’i, November 2018

Bustani sheds light on post-Arab spring tragedies, and inspects the current state of human existence in a world that sinks further and further into consumerism and stereotyping; a world that evades pressing existential issues” (in Arabic) in Al Dustour, March 2018

Reviewed by Alice Guthrie