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Hanan al-Shaykh was born in Lebanon and grew up in Beirut. After leaving Lebanon in 1975, she moved between England and the Gulf States and has lived in London since 1984. Her novels include Suicide of a Dead Man, The Praying Mantis, The Story of Zahra, The Women of Sand and Myrrh, and Beirut Blues. She also published a short-story collection, I Sweep the Sun Off Rooftops, and two plays, Dark Afternoon Tea and Paper Husband.