The Republics

Winner of the Virginia Faulkner Award for Excellence in Writing 

Winner of the Arab American Book Award

The Republics is a massively brilliant new work. It’s gripping, harrowing, and at times horrific, while its form paradoxically is fresh, luscious, and original. Handal has recorded like Alice Walker, Paul Celan, John Hershey, and Carolyn Forché, some of the worst civilization has offered humankind and somehow made it art.
– Sapphire 

A startling piece of work. It’s one of the most inventive books I’ve read by one of today’s most diverse writers.
– Patricia Smith 

These ‘flash reportages’ by Handal offer us new ways to think about both poetry and journalistic documentation.
– Warscapes

By amplifying the voice of blackness in Haiti, she places the issue of racism starkly before us. – Coal Hill Review

Handal is a singular creature: An international nomad whose work explores the innermost quadrants of the self and has a genius for letting all voices, however discordant, be heard. This is poetry of the most original and ridges kind."
– Lorraine Adams 

Following Césaire, Handal’s poems are an act of looking at what is difficult. I cherish these dense little constructions – they are full of hard truths, of things seen in extremis, and yet they do not leave us comfortless.
– Teju Cole

Her gorgeous words, like the griots of old, the nomads of the deserts sands, all of whom roam in her blood. 
– Edwidge Danticat

Particularly inventive, as Handal uses a variety of monologues, narrative or prose poetry, and ‘flash fiction’ to explore questions of home and personal relationships. 
– Women’s Review of Books

In 1951 Theodor Adorno wrote that “there is no longer any beauty or any consolation, except in the gaze which goes straight to the horror, withstands it, and in the undiminished consciousness of negativity, holds fast to the possibility of that which is better.” When reading The Republics, one is riveted by linguistic beauty while being simultaneously repelled by the horror. Despite the catalog of inhumanities, readers are sustained by spirit-lines of survival and empathy woven into every poem. Inside a masterful poetics, Nathalie Handal’s ethical consciousness directs our gaze toward suffering and yet “holds fast to the possibility of that which is better.” – World literature Today


Handal has embraced poetry as “our natural prayer”(Leuzzi 174). With the utmost humility, [her] poetry touches the divine in all of us. Handal’s ethic of care makes her one of the fiercest and most remarkable Arab American poets writing today. – Leila Ben-Nasr at the Arab American Book Award Ceremony

Handal's fifth collection of poetry balances what she calls "flash reportages" with vivid lyric and image. Built out of a patchwork of powerful blocks of monologue or narrative, and threaded with Spanish and Haitian Creole, the book's texture parallels those of "a multicolored coat," "a mirror of unfinished voices," and "a scarf tangled in sepia." The poems spring forth with a spontaneity and urgency that counterbalance the restrained flourishes of her previous work. Handal artfully captures the desire, the rawness of life, and the "misery that burns the soul" of the people she encounters. – Publishers Weekly

Nathalie Handal vocalized a journey in an archipelago of sensorial, embodied memory of and for the future already past. Her book, The Republics, is a handcrafted boat, which hops on and off islands of shared humane stories and can be experienced as a magnified view of dew on a leaf. – Adonis Volanakis