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Photo credit: Jen Steele


Hannah Lillith Assadi

4:30 p.m. Thursday, August 29, 2024

Conversation / Q&A
University at Albany
Assembly Hall (2nd floor) Campus Center
1400 Washington Avenue Albany NY 12222 -  See map.

Hannah Lillith Assadi, award-winning novelist and 2018 National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” Honoree, grew up in Arizona, the child of a Palestinian father and Jewish mother.


Her first novel, Sonora (2018), tells the story of Ahlam, the daughter of a Palestinian refugee and his Israeli wife, who grows up in the arid lands of desert suburbia outside Phoenix. Library Journal said, "This poetic, multicultural novel will enchant younger adults or anyone who has ever felt out of place in the world."


Her second novel, The Stars Are Not Yet Bells (paperback, 2023), tells the story of an elderly woman who confronts a lifetime of secrets, and was named a “Best Book of the Year” by the New Yorker and NPR.

Assadi teaches fiction at the Columbia University School of the Arts.

Cosponsored by UAlbany’s Writing & Critical Inquiry Program (WCI) and the English Department’s Creative Writing Program and Young Writers Project.

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About The Stars Are Not Yet Bells

Named a best book of the year by The New Yorker and NPR

"Through the scrim of fading memory, an elderly woman confronts a lifetime of secrets and betrayal, under the mysterious skies of her island home.

Off the coast of Georgia, near Savannah, generations have been tempted by strange blue lights in the sky near an island called Lyra. At the height of WWII, impressionable young Elle Ranier leaves New York City to forge a new life together on the island with her new husband, Simon. There they will live for decades, raising a family while waging a quixotic campaign to find the source of the mysterious blue offshore light—and the elusive minerals rumored to lurk beneath the surface.

Fifty years later,  Elle looks back at her life on the mysterious island—and at a secret she herself has guarded for decades. As her memory recedes into the mists of Alzheimer’s disease, her life seems a tangle of questions: How did her husband’s business, now shuttered, survive so long without ever finding the legendary Lyra stones? How did her own life crumble under treatment for depression? And what became of Gabriel—the handsome, raffish other man who came to the island with them and risked everything to follow the lights?

Darkly romantic and deeply haunting, The Stars Are Not Yet Bells pulls us into a story of the tantalizing, faithless relationship between ourselves and the lives and souls we leave behind."

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