Laila Halaby

Laila Halaby is the author of two novels, Once in a Promised Land (Washington Post top 100 works of fiction for 2007; Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers) and West of the Jordan (PEN Beyond Margins award winner), as well as two collections of poetry, why an author writes to a guy holding a fish and my name on his tongue. Laila has two master’s degrees (UCLA and LMU), was a Fulbright recipient, and currently lives in Tucson, Arizona where she works as a counselor, museum educator, and creative writing teacher.

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The Weight of Ghosts

Laila Halaby

Publication Date: September 5, 2023

$17.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 9781636281346


The Weight of Ghosts is a lyrical memoir by an author struggling with the death of her older son and sifting through the details of her life.

The Weight of Ghosts is a circling of grief following the death of the author’s older son when he was twenty-one, a horror that was compounded by her younger son’s drug use, the country’s slow eruption as it dealt with its own brokenness, and reckoning the author had to do regarding her own story. The Weight of Ghosts is a lyrical reclaiming and an insistence by the author that she own the rights to her story, which is American flavored with an unreleasing elsewhere. The Weight of Ghosts is an immigrant story and a love story. While it is raw and honest and tragic, it is also a hopeful, funny, and original telling that demonstrates the strength of the human spirit, while offering a vocabulary for these most unmanageable human experiences.


“Equal parts devastating and life-affirming, Laila Halaby’s memoir offers wisdom and truth for everyone who has ever moved through a difficult time and shredded a skin to adapt. There are many layers to this story, all tied together by the clear, poetic language that is as musical as the birdsong that accompanies Halaby on her healing walks around Tucson. The Weight of Ghosts is a brave and remarkable achievement.”
—Alice Elliott Dark, author of Fellowship Point and In the Gloaming

“Beautiful and heartbreaking.”
—Randa Jarrar, author of Love Is An Ex-Country