Reading & Performance: The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing by Darina Al-Joundi

Wed, April 6, 2011 7:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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A dramatic autobiographical reading about a female teenage rebellion and obsession with sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll in war-torn Beirut.

Free and Open to the Public

Coming of age in the midst of war-torn Lebanon, Darina Al-Joundi’s journalist father encouraged her and her sisters to explore all facets contemporary adult life that included sex, religion, and womanhood. She was raised on Baudelaire, A Clockwork Orange, and fine Bordeaux in a lively household where musicians and poets were welcome and fasting and praying were contentiously discussed. On his deathbed near the end of the war, her father’s last wish is for his favorite song, “Sinnerman,” by Nina Simone, to be played at his funeral.

In this compelling true story, Darina Al-Joundi is defiantly passionate about living her life as a free woman, even in the midst of raging war and a tempestuous environment of ideological debate, and even if it means leaving everyone and everything behind.

Darina Al-Joundi has a rich and multi-faceted career. She is an actress, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and novelist. Her acting debut was at age eight, on a program for children on Lebanese television, and her career has spanned television, film, and theater. The theatrical version of Le jour où Nina Simone a cessé (The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing), a one-woman show, was written and performed by Al-Joundi in Paris. Her latest film, Un homme perdu (A Man Lost), directed by Daniel Arbid, was presented at the Director´s Fortnight of the 2007 Cannes Festival.


“The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing is an intense, harrowing, and deeply disturbing memoir of a woman's sustained resistance to the world around her. Darina Al-Joundi's story of her family life and youthful extremity in Beirut, of war and its unspeakable violence, and of a culture that becomes increasingly intolerant and oppressive in the name of religion, especially of women, is told with such brutal immediacy, I found myself both moved and frightened. At once personal and historical, the book is the testament of an unrepentant rebel, who, in the end, has no choice but to leave everything and everyone behind her.”
—Siri Hustvedt, author of The Sorrows of an American

"Al-Joundi's book reconstitutes the misadventures of her youth in a style that is at once heart-breaking and very funny."
—Nancy Huston, author of Fault Lines

“Darina Al-Joundi’s personal liberation became a conquest when it coincided with the civil war in Lebanon. To a merciless world, she brings a merciless book.”
— Etel Adnan, author of Sitt Marie Rose


Alwan's Literary Programming is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Last updated: 2011-11-30 03:07:55

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