Sadness in My Heart

Sadness in My Heart
(working title)
حزن في قلبي
(Huzn fi qalbi)

Written by

(هلال شومان)

Published by


A tightly paced queer romance that explores how the relationships we build make us who we are

A book of two halves, Sadness in My Heart begins with “Berlin,” where Yusif, a young man of Lebanese origins, has grown up in an adoptive family. The handsome Azo teaches Yusif how to love and supports him through his father’s illness, but when Yusif is bereaved, their relationship reaches breaking point. Part two, “Beirut,” sees Yusif set off alone to scatter his father’s ashes in the country of his birth, hoping to find out something about his biological family on the way. Yusif is thrilled to meet new people and discover the city’s nightlife, but as he travels around Lebanon in the company of his new friends, it slowly becomes clear that everybody of the civil war generation has blood on their hands—and his father is no different. Yusif has pieced together a sense of self out of love, friendship, and what family he has, but can it survive the discovery he makes in Beirut?

Approximate number of pages: 238 p.

Foreign rights: contact the author’s agent


Translation samples


Reasons to publish this book

Sadness in My Heart (2022) is the most exciting novel yet by a writer whose work has been shockingly undertranslated. Here, Chouman combines his adventurous approach to form with his talent for deft and sensitive portrayals of queer life that refuse to indulge in cliché or voyeurism. The result is his most profound exploration yet of queer love and what it can teach us about the meaning of family and roots, in an absorbing narrative propelled forward by short, insightful chapters that translate fluidly from his sharp and powerful Arabic.

Prizes and awards

  • Katharine Halls has been awarded a Berlin Senate grant to translate Sadness In My Heart into English


The translation holds the spare and haunting rhythm of Chouman’s prose, which is so often simultaneously sad and beautiful by ArabLit, March 2022

The Beirut-born, Toronto-based Chouman explores the locality of Beirut, the home, from the lens of an outsider. He does this through linguistic experimentation, where questions of identity, memory and loss are explored through fast-paced storytelling and a local tongue by Mada Masr, January 2022 

Reviewed by Katharine Halls