Lilas Taha, the award-winning author of the book Bitter Almondstalked about her inspirations and the overall importance of literacy, in front of Year 9 and 12 students of  Qatar Academy Doha (QA) recently. The event was organised by Hamad Bin Khalifa University Press (HBKU Press). 

HBKU Press Executive Director Bachar Chebaro said that HBKU Press authors share their commitment to give back to communities.

Outreach opportunities, such as this one, are important for our youth as it allows them to develop a personal connection with books and reading and it opens doors to a world of possibilities for them. Meeting an author and hearing about what inspires them allows younger generations to dream and pursue their own literary passions.’

Taha’s discussion with the students focused on her inspiration for writing. The engineer-turned-writer was born in Kuwait to a Syrian mother and a Palestinian father, and immigrated to the US following the Gulf War. Pursuing her true passion for creative writing, Taha brings her professional interests and social background together in her novels.

Talking about my book is always a pleasure, but discussing the writing process with a group of multicultural youths adds another level of enjoyment. I have a chance to touch their minds at a critical age, hoping to inspire, encourage, and show that one can overcome possible barriers to literary expression.’

Bitter Almonds was the winner in the Fiction: Multicultural category of the 2017 International Book Awards. Set in Damascus, Syria, in the tumultuous decades of the 1960s and 1970s, Bitter Almonds follows the coming-of-age of two young refugees as they encounter political turmoil and personal sacrifice.

According to Mahmoud Amer, the Arabic team leader at Qatar Academy Doha, the visit of the author to the QA campus reinforces the concept of creativity in their students. He said that they too are encouraging their students to use creativity to pass on their heritage to the world.

Taha is currently working on her second novel with HBKU Press, which will also release an Arabic edition of Bitter Almonds.

For more information about Taha and other HBKU Press authors, visit their website at

Taha will be discussing her award-winning book, Bitter Almonds this Wednesday, 24 January, 6 pm at Georgetown University in Qatar. The talk will be followed by book signing and reception. Check out the Marhaba Events Calendar for more information.