This lyrical hybrid memoir revisits a lifetime's worth of personal journals to slowly piece together a narrative of chronic illness--a moving account of survival, memory, loss, and hope.
Shahd Alshammari is just eighteen when she is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and told by her neurologist that she would not make it past age thirty. Despite what she is told, by thirty, she has become a professor of literature, and has managed to navigate education systems in both Kuwait and the United Kingdom and inspire generations of students.
Head above Water is the intimate, philosophical memoir of Shahd Alshammari's life of triumph and resistance, as a woman marked "ill" by society and as a lifelong reader, student, and teacher. Charting her journey with raw honesty, Alshammari explores disability, displacement, and belonging--not only of the body, but of culture, gender, and race, and imparts wisdom of profound philosophical value throughout. It is people, human connections, that keep us afloat, she argues--"and in storytelling we have the power to gain a sense of agency over our lives."
About the Author
Shahd Alshammari is a Kuwaiti-Palestinian author and academic. She is the author of the books Notes on the Flesh and Head Above Water, as well as numerous other academic publications and papers. Her areas of research include illness narratives, disability studies, and questions of identity and language in the Arab world.