The Shape of Dust
with contributions from Hazem Hamouda
An incredible true tale of overcoming injustice and ode to the fierce love within one family, The Shape of Dust is a haunting appraisal of the way Australia treats its citizens, both at home and abroad.
In 2018, on his way to a family holiday in Cairo, Australian-Egyptian citizen Hazem Hamouda disappears without warning, going missing somewhere between landing and customs.
His eldest daughter, Lamisse, has recently moved to Egypt armed with a scholarship to the American University of Cairo, and overnight her world is turned upside down. With little Arabic and even less legal knowledge, she finds out her father has been arbitrarily arrested. Going up against the notorious Egyptian prison system, Lamisse discovers that the Australian embassy provides shockingly little support to dual citizens arrested abroad.
Shouldering the responsibility of her father’s welfare, Lamisse learns to navigate both deeply flawed systems, and freeing Hazem involves a reckoning with the two countries she’s called home – coming to terms with the prejudice and racism of the country she grew up in and the corruption in the country she was hoping to reconnect with.
Told with exquisite intimacy by both father and daughter, The Shape of Dust is an Australian story unlike any other, and the striking debut of a writer of incredible nuance, insight and talent.
‘Lamisse Hamouda’s The Shape of Dust is a must read. Full-blooded and clear-eyed, this book is a deep dive into memories big and small, brutal and joyful, a ruthlessly reflective examination of the many things that bind us – and free us. As Lamisse herself describes, this is an effort to remember, an insistence on dignity, like food shared, like paper flowers made by the hands of prisoners.’ Omar Musa
‘At its core, The Shape of Dust is a love story. A tale of determination, devotion and duty told with courage and self-assuredness.’ Jan Fran
‘This is an extraordinarily brave, honest, and deeply intimate account of a family’s struggle against a brutal bureaucracy. Lamisse somehow manages to be both personal and political, without ever becoming polemic. Their ordeal is painful, their love for one another uplifting. In the end it will make you angry at the injustices both grand and petty, that run from Cairo to Canberra.’ Peter Greste
‘Imbued with hard-earned wisdom, this gripping memoir is as courageous as it is generous.’ Sara Saleh
‘A socio-political critique with intellectual depth and a beautiful literary quality.’ Randa Abdel-Fattah
‘Reading this book felt like a punch to the gut and I loved it.’ Hella Ibrahim
‘Father-daughter duo Lamisse and Hazem Hamouda’s debut memoir The Shape of Dust is an impactful picture of one ordinary Australian-Egyptian family’s experience as victims of a human rights violation… As the story unfolds between Australia and Egypt, the narrative highlights two important things: the universal humanity of prisoners and the power of recording silenced injustices. The Shape of Dust is an integral read that shares the stories beyond the human rights violations of media headlines and belongs on every bookshelf.’ Eman X, Books+Publishing
‘A beautifully written, deeply personal and devastating account of arbitrary detention in Egypt and a family’s inspirational fight for their father’s freedom. This book is essential reading to understand the difficulties faced by Australians unjustly jailed abroad, the traumatic impact and burden on their families at home, and how to fight for – and win – freedom. It was a privilege to represent Hazem and his family, to work alongside Lamisse in that fight, and it was a privilege to read this book.’ Jennifer Robinson, Barrister