Award-winning Lebanese author Emily Nasrallah, "whose novels struggled with bigotry against women, the horrors of civil war and the vacuum left by fleeing refugees," died March 14, the New York Times reported. She was 86. "Lebanon and the Arab world lost an icon of literature and Lebanese creativity, and a women's rights activist," said Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Although best known in Lebanon, some of her books were translated and published abroad, the Times noted, adding that "wherever they were read, they struck a responsive chord."
"You really travel through the pages," said Sirene Harb, an associate professor of comparative literature at the American University of Beirut. "It's not anymore a book that you have in front of you, it's something you have inside of you."
Nasrallah published her first novel, Birds of September, in 1962. Even in her children's books, Nasrallah would "hardly sugarcoat the horrors of military conflict. In A Cat's Diary (1998), she chronicled war through the journal of a cat left to fend for itself by a family who had fled the fighting," the Times wrote.
Last year, the Goethe Institute awarded her the Goethe Medal, and last month President Michel Aoun of Lebanon honored her as a commander of the National Order of the Cedar.