Under the Tripoli Sky

by Kamal Ben Hameda


A fascinating portrait of a pre-Gaddafi society on the verge of change.

Tripoli in the 1960s. A sweltering, segregated society. Hadachinou is a lonely boy. His mother shares secrets with her best friend, Jamila, while his father prays at the mosque. Sneaking through the sun drenched streets of Tripoli, the boy listens to the whispered stories of the women. He turns into an invisible witness to their repressed desires as he becomes aware of his own.

Translated from the French by Adriana Hunter.

112pp, paperback with flaps, £12
ISBN 978-1-908670-16-8
Publication date: 24 September 2014

Press & Reviews

'[Under the Tripoli Sky] offers a vivid and rare glimpse into life in Tripoli during that narrow window of time between independence and the long Qaddafi years, and it ought to be commended for its lack of sentimentality about this much-mythologized chapter of modern Libya.' Hisham Matar, Times Literary Supplement

'Just as Hadachinou often does, the reader feels he is peeking through a half-drawn curtain on a secret feminine world in a patriarchal society... This is [Kamal Ben Hameda's] first novel. It is excellent.' David Mills, The Sunday Times

'Gradually, in beautifully simple and restrained prose, his childish perspective reveals the yawning disparity between men and women and a society on the verge of embracing one of the cruellest dictators of the modern age.' Lucy Popescu, Huffington Post

'No two women’s tales are the same and each reveals valuable truths about the speaker, the era and the fragmented, male-dominated society... A short but shimmering read.' Malcolm Forbes, The National

'On the surface this is a book about the lives of women in 1960s Tripoli, and Hadachinou takes us through a colorful parade of them ... but its more quiet subject is the idea of secret access and hidden spaces, both physical and those of a person’s inner world.' Michelle Bailat-Jones

'Beautifully written, an evocative book of sensations describing the blistering midday heat, the dust, the sweat and the silence of the Tripoli afternoons.' Tony Malone

About The Book


Kamal Ben Hameda was born in Tripoli in 1954. In his early twenties he moved to France. He now lives in Holland where he works as a Jazz musician and writer. Kamal has published several collections of poetry. In 2012 La Compagnie des Tripolitaines (Under the Tripoli Sky) was nominated for a number of prizes, including Le Prix Ulysse and Le Prix du livre Lorientales.



Adriana Hunter has translated over 50 books from French, including works by Agnès Desarthe, Véronique Ovalde and Hervé Le Tellier. She has translated four titles for Peirene: Beside the Sea by Véronique Olmi, for which she won the 2011 Scott Moncrieff Prize, Under The Tripoli Sky by Kamal Ben Hameda, Reader for Hire by Raymond Jean and Her Father’s Daughter by Marie Sizun. Adriana has been short-listed twice for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.