This page contains details of books previously listed on the Recently Published Books page. Books are listed in alphabetical order of the author. All the books were published in 2011 or later.
THE ARTS – FICTION/POETRY/PHOTOGRAPHY
Waleed Abu-Ghazeleh & Afzal Huda: Love wins: Palestinian perseverance behind walls (2014)
Susan Abulhawa: Mornings in Jenin (2011)
Susan Abulhawa: The blue between sky and water (2015)
Refaat Alareer (ed.): Gaza writes back: Short stories from young writers in Gaza (2014)
Eli Amir: Yasmine (2012)
Radwa Ashour: The woman from Tantoura (2014)
Grace Beeler, Joan Dobbie & Alicia Ostriker: Before there is nowhere to stand: Palestine/Israel: Poets respond to the struggle (2012)
Henry Bell & Sarah Irving (eds.): A bird is not a stone: An anthology of Palestinian poetry (2014)
Anna Bernard: Rhetorics of belonging: Nation, narrative and Israel/Palestine (2014)
Shani Boianjiu: The people of forever are not afraid (2013)
Kamal Boullata: Between exits: Paintings by Hani Zurob (2012)
Henry Ralph Carse: Walls: Photographs of Israel and Palestine (2011)
Michelle Cohen Corasanti: The almond tree (2012)
Selma Dabbagh: Out of it (2012)
Susan Muaddi Darraj: A curious land: Stories from home (2015)
Najwan Darwish: Nothing more to lose (2014)
Aidan Andrew Dun: Unholyland (2012)
Khaled Furani: Silencing the sea: Secular rhythms in Palestinian poetry (2012)
Mads Gilbert: Night in Gaza (2015)
Samia Halaby: Drawing the Kafr Qasem massacre (2016)
Hatim Kanaaneh: Chief complaint: A country doctor’s tales of life in Gaililee (2015)
Sahar Khalifeh: Of noble origins: A Palestinian novel (2012)
khulud khamis: Haifa fragments (2015)
Yitzhak Laor: The myths of Liberal Zionism (2017)
Lital Levy: Poetic trespass: Writing between Hebrew & Arabic (2014)
Vered Maimon (Ed.): Activestills: Photography as protest in Israel/Palestine (2016)
Ahmed Masoud: Vanished: The mysterious disappearance of Mustafa Ouda (2015)
David McDonald: My voice is my weapon: Music, nationalism and the poetics of Palestinian resistance (2014)
Emma McEvoy: The Inbetween people (2012)
Raba’i al-Madhoun: The lady from Tel-Aviv (2013)
Khaled Mattawa: Mahmoud Darwish: The poet’s art and his nation (2014)
Trevor Mostyn (Ed.): Reading Palestine: A literary guide (2013)
Maha Nassar: Brothers apart: Palestinian citizens of Israel and the Arab world (2017)
Harvey Pekar & J.T. Waldman: Not the Israel my parents promised me (2012)
Dorit Rabinyan: All the rivers (2017)
Kate Raphael: Murder under the bridge: A Palestine Mystery (2015)
Sharon Rotbard: White city, black city: Architecture and war in Tel Aviv and Jaffa (2015)
Mohammed Sabaaneh: White & Black: Political cartoons from Palestine (2017)
Atef Abu Saif (ed.): The book of Gaza: A city in short fiction (2014)
Elias Sanbar: The Palestinians: Photographs of a land and its people from 1839 to the present day(2015)
Fazal Sheikh: The erasure trilogy: Memory trace; Desert bloom; Independence/Nakba (2015)
Sara Shilo: The falafel king is dead (2012)
Olivia Snaije & Mitchell Albert (Eds.): Keep your eye on the Wall: Palestinian landscapes (2013)
Ahdaf Soueif & Omar Robert Hamilton (Eds.): This Is Not A Border
Reportage & Reflection from the Palestine Festival of Literature (2017)
William Sutcliffe: The Wall (2013)
Lilas Taha: Bitter almonds (2015)
Lavie Tidhar & Shimon Adaf: Art and war: Poetry, pulp fiction and politics in Israeli fiction (2016)
Lena Khalaf Tuffaha: Water & Salt (2107)
Vacy Viazna (Ed.): I remember my name (2016)
Jemma Wayne: Chains of sand (2016)
S. Yizhar: Khirbet Khizeh (2011)
Ghassan Zaqtan: Like a straw bird it follows me: And other poems (2012)
Ghassan Zaqtan: Describing the Past (2016)
Publisher’s description: During the summer of 2011, armed with a camera and a map, award-winning Canadian filmmaker and photographer Afzal Huda set out to chronicle the Separation Wall in Palestine. His aim was to magnify the ugly face of the Wall and depict the contradictions and hardships endured by human beings living under a military occupation. He was intent on showing the world what it was like to live in an open air prison and how Palestinians have developed ways to cope with the Wall’s existence. Afzal spent three weeks doing just that: visiting all the Palestinian areas along the Wall and interviewing people young and old from all walks of life. But instead of the overwhelming reality of misery and suffering he had witnessed with his own eyes, his camera caught images of a contrasting nature: photos of people and faces of compassion, perseverance and hope rarely seen in mainstream media’s usual portrayal of Palestinians.
Publisher’s description: Palestine, 1948. A mother clutches her six-month-old son as Israeli soldiers march through the village of Ein Hod. In a split second, her son is snatched from her arms and the fate of the Abulheja family is changed forever. Forced into a refugee camp in Jenin and exiled from the ancient village that is their lifeblood, the family struggles to rebuild their world. (…) Mornings in Jenin is a devastating novel of love and loss, war and oppression, and heartbreak and hope, spanning five countries and four generations of one of the most intractable conflicts of our lifetime.
Publisher’s description: Violently pushed from their ancient farming village of Beit Daras, a Palestinian family tries to reconstitute itself in a refugee camp in Gaza. The men here, those who have escaped prison or the battlefields, worry over making ends meet, tend their tattered pride, join the resistance. The women are left to be breadwinners and protectors, too. Nazmiyeh is the matriarch, the center of a household of sisters, daughters, granddaughters, whose lives threaten to spin out of control with every personal crisis, military attack, or political landmine. Her brother’s granddaughter Nur is stuck in America; her own daughter’s son, traumatized in an Israeli assault, slips into another kind of exile; her daughter has cancer and no access to medicine. (…) All Nazmiyeh’s loved ones will return to her, and ultimately journey further, to that place between the sky and water where all is as it once was, and where all will meet again.
Publisher’s description: A compelling collection of short stories from fifteen young writers in Gaza, members of a generation that has suffered immensely under Israel’s siege and blockade. Their experiences, especially during and following Israel’s 2008-2009 offensive known as “Operation Cast Lead”, have fundamentally impacted their lives and their writing. Indeed, many of these writers saw the war as a catalyst for their writing, as they sought an outlet and a voice in its aftermath. They view the book as a means of preserving Palestinian memories and presenting their own narratives to the world without filters. Their words take us into the homes and hearts of moms, dads, students, children, and elders striving to live lives of dignity, compassion, and meaning in one of the world’s most embattled communities. (Some of the stories also take us with courage and empathy into the imagined world of Israelis living just on the other side of the great barriers Israel has built in and around Gaza and the West Bank to wall the Palestinians in.) These stories are acts of resistance and defiance, proclaiming the endurance of Palestinians and the continuing resilience and creativity of their culture in the face of ongoing obstacles and attempts to silence them.
Publisher’s description: “I’m an Arab Jew. I listen to classical music in the morning and Arabic music in the evening.” Surprisingly for someone so young, Nuri Imari (whose family we encountered in The Dove Flyer), is appointed advisor on Arab affairs to the Israeli government. With little guidance he is asked by his boss to “set up an office in East Jerusalem, sniff around to see what’s happening there, meet their effendis, and provide me with your evaluations.” Everyone is reeling from the aftermath of the Six Day War. The Palestinians cannot comprehend their losses, whilst the Israelis are waking up to a new political reality – and new responsibilities. Nuri discovers complexities and loyalties he could never have imagined. He tries to steer a humane course but soon finds himself confronting bigotry and hatred on both sides. And then he meets Yasmine, a Palestinian woman recently returned from Paris…
Publisher’s description: Palestine. For most of us, the word brings to mind a series of confused images and disjointed associations—massacres, refugee camps, UN resolutions, settlements, terrorist attacks, war, occupation, checkered kuffiyehs and suicide bombers, a seemingly endless cycle of death and destruction. This novel does not shy away from such painful images, but it is first and foremost a powerful human story, following the life of a young girl from her days in the village of al-Tantoura in Palestine up to the dawn of the new century. We participate in events as they unfold, seeing them through the uneducated but sharply intelligent mind of Ruqayya, as she tries to make sense of all that has happened to her and her family. With her, we live her love of her land and of her people; we feel the repeated pain of loss, of diaspora, and of cross-generational misunderstanding; and above all, we come to know her indomitable human spirit.
Publisher’s description: in 2009, the editors, Joan Dobbie and Grace Beeler, both Jewish descendants of Holocaust survivors, reeling against the atrocities of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, the Gaza massacre, issued a call for poetry. The ad, first posted in Poets & Writers read, “Are you Jewish or Palestinian? Of Palestinian or Jewish heritage? Please submit poetry for an anthology that strives for understanding in these troubled times. All points of view wanted in the belief that poetry can create understanding and understanding can dull hatred.” In response, the process that then followed embodied much of the complex dynamic of the conflict itself. Editors, while not wanting to foreclose any possible reading, were met with the need to attend to disparity of voice, asymmetry, and incongruence of historical awareness.
Reviews: none yet available.
Publisher’s description: A major collection of contemporary Palestinian poetry translated by 25 of Scotland’s very best writers including Alasdair Gray, Liz Lochhead, James Robertson, Jackie Kay, William Letford, Aonghas MacNeacail, DM Black, Tom Pow, Ron Butlin and John Glenday. Edited by Henry Bell and Sarah Irving. A Bird is Not a Stone is a unique cultural exchange, giving both English and Arabic readers a unique insight into the political, social and emotional landscape of today’s Palestine. Includes both established and emerging Palestinian poets.
Publisher’s description: The crisis in Israel/Palestine has long been the world’s most visible military conflict. Yet the region’s cultural and intellectual life remains all but unknown to most foreign observers, which means that literary texts that make it into circulation abroad tend to be received as historical documents rather than aesthetic artefacts. Rhetorics of Belonging examines the diverse ways in which Palestinian and Israeli world writers have responded to the expectation that they will ‘narrate’ the nation, invigorating critical debates about the political and artistic value of national narration as a reading and writing practice. It considers writers whose work is rarely discussed together, offering new readings of the work of Edward Said, Amos Oz, Mourid Barghouti, Orly Castel-Bloom, Sahar Khalifeh, and Anton Shammas. This book helps to restore the category of the nation to contemporary literary criticism by attending to a context where the idea of the nation is so central a part of everyday experience that writers cannot not address it, and readers cannot help but read for it. It also points a way toward a relational literary history of Israel/Palestine, one that would situate Palestinian and Israeli writing in the context of a history of antagonistic interaction.
Publisher’s description: Yael, Avishag, and Lea grow up together in a tiny, dusty Israeli village, attending a high school made up of caravan classrooms, passing notes to each other to alleviate the universal boredom of teenage life. When they are conscripted into the army, their lives change in unpredictable ways, influencing the women they become and the friendship that they struggle to sustain. Yael trains marksmen and flirts with boys. Avishag stands guard, watching refugees throw themselves at barbed-wire fences. Lea, posted at a checkpoint, imagines the stories behind the familiar faces that pass by her day after day. They gossip about boys and whisper of an ever more violent world just beyond view. They drill, constantly, for a moment that may never come. They live inside that single, intense second just before danger erupts. In a relentlessly energetic and arresting voice marked by humor and fierce intelligence, Shani Boianjiu, winner of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35,” creates an unforgettably intense world, capturing that unique time in a young woman’s life when a single moment can change everything.
Publisher’s description: Between Exits is organised chronologically to offer the reader a comprehensive insight into Zurob’s key paintings and series of the past two decades. Painter and writer Kamal Boullata takes the reader through Zurob’s art and carefully reveals how each body of work, created in changing periods of the artist’s life, reflects evolving approaches to the understanding of self as well as strategies of collective belonging which the artist’s work constantly probes. The conflicted Palestinian identity is mediated and questioned recurringly throughout Zurob’s works and Between Exits thus addresses the notion of movement and displacement that are central to the Palestinian everyday reality. Hani Zurob’s practice provides an important voice in contemporary Palestinian culture, as well as a significant contribution to the creation of an Arab aesthetic. Ultimately though, while Zurob’s art gives powerful expression to the Palestinian collective experience, it can also be seen in the context of more universal themes of personal identity and embraces humanity beyond the Palestinian context.
Publisher’s description: Henry Ralph Carse is a pilgrim, scholar and practical theologian who has lived in the Middle East for forty years. His beautifully composed images strike a democratic balance between the Israeli and Palestinian cultures. People and places are recorded at crucial moments in the ever-changing disposition of a land in turmoil. Carse’s photographs have a charged immediacy and, at times, a philosophical stillness. They are the photographs of an outsider being absorbed into the fabric of another life. In his introduction Carse writes: “…no one has ever built a wall that could entirely protect the innocent, punish the guilty, separate pure from impure, or thwart the human gaze.”
Reviews: Huffington Post
Publisher’s description: A moving story of family, identity and struggle skilfully told by a very exciting new author. A novel set in the midst of turbulence and written by an author with a real understanding of life on both sides of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. With a promising mind that impresses the elders in his village, where family and cause are more important than individual dreams, young Palestinian Ichmad Hamid struggles with his inability to help those who are closest to him. Living on disputed land, his entire village operates in constant fear of losing their homes, jobs, and belongings. But more importantly, they fear losing each other. On Ichmad’s twelfth birthday, that fear becomes reality. With his father imprisoned, his family’s home and possessions destroyed, and his siblings succumbing to hatred, Ichmad begins an inspiring journey to save his desperate and dying family. In doing so he reclaims a love for others that was lost through a childhood rife with violence, and discovers a new hope for the future. In writing The Almond Tree Michelle Cohen Corasanti drew upon her personal experience of living in Israel for many years as well as her education in Middle Eastern studies, both in Israel and the US..
Selma Dabbagh: Out of it (Bloomsbury, 2011, paperback, £12.99)
Publisher’s description: Written with extraordinary humanity and humour, and moving between Gaza, London and the Gulf, Out of It is a tale that redefines Palestine and its people. It follows the lives of Rashid and Iman as they try to forge places for themselves in the midst of occupation, religious fundamentalism and the divisions between Palestinian factions. It tells of family secrets, unlikely love stories and unburied tragedies as it captures the frustrations and energies of the modern Arab World.
Publisher’s description: Susan Muaddi Darraj’s short story collection about the inhabitants of a Palestinian West Bank village, Tel al-Hilou, spans generations and continents to explore ideas of memory, belonging, connection, and, ultimately, the deepest and richest meaning of home. A Curious Land gives voice to the experiences of Palestinians in the last century.
Publisher’s description: Nothing More to Lose is the first collection of poems by Palestinian poet Najwan Darwish to appear in English. Hailed across the Arab world and beyond, Darwish’s poetry walks the razor’s edge between despair and resistance, between dark humor and harsh political realities. With incisive imagery and passionate lyricism, Darwish confronts themes of equality and justice while offering a radical, more inclusive, rewriting of what it means to be both Arab and Palestinian living in Jerusalem, his birthplace.
Publisher’s description: Unholyland is a love story in 264 sonnets. Against the background of daily events in Israel and the West Bank, an Israeli DJ meets and falls in love with a Palestinian rapper. In form, Dun’s verses are a mixture of classical structures and free-ranging rap. They are earthy and immediate, and as well as appealing to regular poetry readers, Unholyland will attract a wider range of people who will be drawn along by the rapidly developing story.
Publisher’s description: Silencing the Sea follows Palestinian poets’ debates about their craft as they traverse multiple and competing realities of secularism and religion, expulsion and occupation, art, politics, immortality, death, fame, and obscurity. Khaled Furani takes his reader down ancient roads and across military checkpoints to join the poets’ worlds and engage with the rhythms of their lifelong journeys in Islamic and Arabic history, language, and verse. (…) Poetry, the traditional repository of Arab history, has become the preeminent medium of Palestinian memory in exile. In probing poets’ writings, this work investigates how struggles over poetic form can host larger struggles over authority, knowledge, language, and freedom. It reveals a very intimate and venerated world, entwining art, intellect, and politics, narrating previously untold stories of a highly stereotyped people.
Reviews: Electronic Intifada
Publisher’s description: In the summer of 2014, Gaza was attacked by Israel for the fourth time since 2006. This attack lasted fifty-one days. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor, had worked at al-Shifa Hospital during each previous conflict, and in July 2014 he went back there. While he was helping the wounded, he kept a camera in the pocket of his green operating scrubs. In this book, he tells the story in words and images of the fifteen days of bombing and human suffering that he witnessed. At the same time, this book is a tribute to the courage, endurance and almost inconceivably strong spirit of Palestinian health workers and volunteers, a spirit replicated throughout the severely tested society of Gaza, occupied Palestine.
Publisher’s description: The 1956 Kafr Qasem massacre was carried out by the Israeli Border Police under cover of the tripartite attack on Egypt by England, France, and Israel. (…) In Kafr Qasem, an artifice was created to provide a fig-leaf excuse for the killing of innocent people — a curfew announced less than a half an hour before it was implemented. Workers returning home, tired and hungry, unaware of the curfew, were cold-bloodedly shot dead by members of the Israeli Border Police. Based on interviews with survivors, Samia Halaby created a set of documentary drawings on the subject. The emotions of anger and fear leap from every page of this book, enabling the reader to bear witness to the terrible suffering endured by the inhabitants of this small Palestinian village.
Publisher’s description: In Chief Complaint, Hatim Kanaaneh, MD, explores the changing, precarious, and ever-shrinking world of Palestinians living in Israel. As his village’s first Western-trained physician, Kanaaneh has had intimate access to his neighbor’s lives, which he chronicles here in a fictionalized collection of vignettes. These compelling short stories reveal the struggles, triumphs, memories, and hopes of the indigenous Palestinian community living in a state that does not acknowledge their past or encourage their future. Each story is titled with the “chief complaint” of its protagonist, the principal reason that the patient sought medical attention at Kanaaneh’s clinic. Using the classic tool of the medical profession known as the “review of systems” as a literary device, Kanaaneh deftly draws the reader in to a fascinating cast of characters, narrating their troubles and pain as well as the joys that punctuate life for the Palestinians of Galilee. Ultimately, this collection poignantly conveys their community’s foundational chief complaint, its conflicted relationship with the state of Israel.
Reviews: Palestine Book Awards
Sahar Khalifeh: Of noble origins: A Palestinian novel (American University in Cairo Press,2012, paperback, £11.99)
Publisher’s description:The Qahtan are a Palestinian family that claims to have originated in the Arabian Peninsula, descended from the family of the Prophet Muhammad. This connection has given its members a certain ascendancy in their society, and has influenced their cultural and political choices. The true test occurs when the Qahtanis, like other Palestinians, confront two enemies after the First World War: the British Mandate and the Zionist movement. Observing the gradual and increasing illegal Jewish immigration and land appropriation, the Palestinians come to realize they have been betrayed by a power that “fulfilled their promises to the Jews and reneged on their promises to the Arabs.” Sahar Khalifeh brings to the forefront the inner conflicts of Palestinian society as it struggles to affirm its cultural and national identity, save its threatened homeland, and maintain a semblance of normalcy in otherwise abnormal circumstances.
Reviews:Women’s Review of Books
khulud khamis: Haifa fragments (Spinfex Press, 2015, paperback, £8.99)
Publisher’s description: Jewellery designer Maisoon wants an ordinary extraordinary life, which isn’t easy for a tradition-defying, activist, Palestinian citizen of Israel who refuses to be crushed by the feeling of being an unwelcome guest in the land of her ancestors. Frustrated by the apathy of her boyfriend Ziyad and her father Majid—who want her to get on with her life and forget those in the Occupied Territories—she lashes out, only to discover her father isn’t the man she thought he was. Raised a Christian, in a relationship with a Muslim man and enamoured with a Palestinian woman from the Occupied Territories, Maisoon must determine her own path.
Publisher’s description: Laor is one of Israel’s most prominent dissidents and poets, a latter-day Spinoza who helps keep alive the critical tradition within Jewish culture. In this work he fearlessly dissects the complex attitudes of Western European liberal Left intellectuals toward Israel, Zionism and the “Israeli peace camp.” He argues that through a prism of famous writers like Amos Oz, David Grossman and A.B. Yehoshua, the peace camp has now adopted the European vision of “new Zionism,” promoting the fierce Israeli desire to be accepted as part of the West and taking advantage of growing Islamophobia across Europe. The backdrop to this uneasy relationship is the ever-present shadow of the Holocaust. Laor is merciless as he strips bare the hypocrisies and unarticulated fantasies that lie beneath the love-affair between “liberal Zionists” and their European supporters.
Reviews: Electronic Intifada
Publisher’s description: A Palestinian-Israeli poet declares a new state whose language, “Homelandic,” is a combination of Arabic and Hebrew. A Jewish-Israeli author imagines a “language plague” that infects young Hebrew speakers with old world accents, and sends the narrator in search of his Arabic heritage. In Poetic Trespass, Lital Levy brings together such startling visions to offer the first in-depth study of the relationship between Hebrew and Arabic in the literature and culture of Israel/Palestine. More than that, she presents a captivating portrait of the literary imagination’s power to transgress political boundaries and transform ideas about language and belonging. Blending history and literature, Poetic Trespass traces the interwoven life of Arabic and Hebrew in Israel/Palestine from the turn of the twentieth century to the present, exposing the two languages’ intimate entanglements in contemporary works of prose, poetry, film, and visual art by both Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel. In a context where intense political and social pressures work to identify Jews with Hebrew and Palestinians with Arabic, Levy finds writers who have boldly crossed over this divide to create literature in the language of their “other,” as well as writers who bring the two languages into dialogue to rewrite them from within. (…) By revealing uncommon visions of what it means to write in Arabic and Hebrew, Poetic Trespass will change the way we understand literature and culture in the shadow of the Israeli-Palestinian
Reviews: Electronic Intifada
Vered Maimon (Ed.): Activestills: Photography as protest in Israel/Palestine (Pluto, 2016, paperback, £20)
Publisher’s description: In 2005, a group of photographers took a stand alongside the people of the small town of Bil’in, and documented their fight to stop the Israeli government building the infamous West Bank Barrier. Inspired by what they had seen in Bil’in, the group went on to form Activestills, a collective whose work has become vital in documenting the struggle against Israeli occupation and everyday life in extraordinary situations. Activestills: Photography as Protest in Palestine/Israel examines the collective’s archive and activity from historical, theoretical, critical, and personal perspectives. It is the result of an in-depth dialogue among members of the collective and activists, journalists, intellectuals, and academics, and stands as the definitive study of the collective’s work. Combining striking full-colour photographs with essays and commentary, Activestills stands as both a major contribution to reportage on Israel/Palestine and a unique collection of visual art.
Reviews: none yet available
Publisher’s description: What does it take to discover the truth? Betrayal? Deception? Risking one’s own life? Omar Ouda did it all. Vanished is a fictional story set against the political unrest in Palestine, following a young boy trying to find his father. The deeper he delves into his father’s mysterious disappearance, the more he finds himself forced to make terrible choices, testing his loyalty to his country and his family. The book is also about friendship born out of difficult circumstances, presented here through the character of Ahmed who risks his life to help his friend in the quest to find his father. (…) While politics provide an important background to the story, the novel does not aim to put forth any political arguments. Instead, it sheds light on what it is like for two young boys to lead an ordinary life in an extraordinary place often described as ‘hell on earth.’
Publisher’s description: In My Voice Is My Weapon, David A. McDonald rethinks the conventional history of the Palestinian crisis through an ethnographic analysis of music and musicians, protest songs, and popular culture. Charting a historical narrative that stretches from the late-Ottoman period through the end of the second Palestinian intifada, McDonald examines the shifting politics of music in its capacity to both reflect and shape fundamental aspects of national identity. Drawing case studies from Palestinian communities in Israel, in exile, and under occupation, McDonald grapples with the theoretical and methodological challenges of tracing “resistance” in the popular imagination, attempting to reveal the nuanced ways in which Palestinians have confronted and opposed the traumas of foreign occupation. The first of its kind, this book offers an in-depth ethnomusicological analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, contributing a performative perspective to the larger scholarly conversation about one of the world’s most contested humanitarian issues.
Publisher’s description: ‘I am writing this for you Saleem. I am writing about us, about how I loved you, and how I killed you.’ As Avi Goldberg, the son of a Jewish pioneer, sits at a desk in a dark cell in a military prison in the Negev desert, he fills the long nights writing about his friend Saleem, an Israeli Arab he befriended on a beach one scorching July day, and the story of Saleem’s family, whose loss of their Ancestral home in 1948 cast a long shadow over their lives. Avi and Saleem understand about the past: they believe it can be buried, reduced to nothing. But then September 2000 comes and war breaks out – endless, unforgiving and filled with loss. And in the midst of the Intifada, which rips their peoples apart, they both learn that war devours everything, that even seemingly insignificant, utterly mundane, things get lost in war and that, sometimes, if you do not speak of these things, they are lost to you forever. Set amongst the white chalk Galilee Mountains and the hostile desert terrain of the Negev Desert, the inbetween people is a story of longing that deals with hatred, forgiveness, and the search for redemption.
Publisher’s description: In the economy class of a plane, the lives of two passengers intersect: Walid Dahman, a Palestinian writer, is returning to his family in Gaza for the first time in thirty-eight years, and Dana Ahova, an Israeli actress, is on her way back to Tel Aviv. As the night sky hurtles past, what each confides and conceals will expose the chasm between them in the land they both call home. The Lady from Tel Aviv is both a meditation on the nature of fiction and an incisive exploration of the effects of occupation on a people and what it is to be a Palestinian. Al-Madhoun’s precise, poetic use of language and sardonic humour bring home political realities and how people live them, on both sides of the checkpoints.
Khaled Mattawa: Mahmoud Darwish: The poet’s art and his nation (Syracuse University Press, 2014, £14.72)
Publisher’s description: In Mahmoud Darwish: The Poet’s Art and His Nation, Mattawa pays tribute to one of the most celebrated and well-read poets of our era. With detailed knowledge of Arabic verse and a firm grounding in Palestinian history, Mattawa explores the ways in which Darwish’s aesthetics have played a crucial role in shaping and maintaining Palestinian identity and culture through decades of warfare, attrition, exile, and land confiscation. Mattawa chronicles the evolution of his poetry, from a young poet igniting resistance in occupied land to his decades in exile where his work grew in ambition and scope. In doing so, Mattawa reveals Darwish’s verse to be both rooted to its place of longing and to transcend place, as it reaches for the universal and the human.
Publisher’s description: Reading Palestine: a Literary Guide looks without prejudice at Israel-Palestine through the eyes of writers from biblical times to the present day, allowing the region to come alive through the pens of such diverse personalities as Napoleon Bonaparte, Gustave Flaubert, Lord Curzon, T. E. Lawrence, Sacheverell Sitwell, Linda Grant and Howard Jacobson. With thematic introductions and explanatory notes, the selection includes Jewish, Christian, Muslim and secular writings as well as the contrasting narratives of Israeli and Palestinian identity. (…) This book encompasses the intellectual and social dimensions of the conflict, including the foundations of Zionism and the modern growth of Palestinian culture. But it also looks way beyond the conflict to look at fiction, poetry, costume and family life. From the architect of Zionism Theodor Herzl to modern Palestinian thinkers such as Edward Said, it explores opposite viewpoints and national loyalties. In works of the imagination it includes the writing of myriad and sometimes unexpected authors such as Mark Twain, Noel Coward, Mahatma Gandhi and Winston Churchill. Much more than another account of the conflict, this book gives voice to both Israeli and Palestinian writers as well as those from outside the region. It considers Palestine’s long and much-mythologized history, its landscapes and cities and the way in which it has inspired generations of writers, artists and thinkers.
Reviews: none yet available
Publisher’s description: This gripping, comi-tragic fictional–factual saga takes place in the environs of Jerusalem, from late Ottoman times to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. With the colorful strokes of his pen, Ibrahim Nasrallah paints a vivid picture of Palestinian villagers’ preoccupations and aspirations—their ties to their land, to their animals, and to one another. Through the experiences of Hajj Mahmud, chief elder of al-Hadiya, his son Khalid and his beloved steed al-Hamama, and other memorable characters ranging from the heroic to the villainous, we relive the realities of the Palestinian village in the early twentieth century, Zionist colonization and its impact on Arab rural life, the trauma that accompanied the British mandate and its aftermath, the Palestinians’ struggle to maintain the autonomy and dignity they had known for centuries on end, and the beginnings of life under the Zionist state.
Publisher’s description: When the state of Israel was established in 1948, not all Palestinians became refugees: some stayed behind and were soon granted citizenship. Those who remained, however, were relegated to second-class status in this new country, controlled by a military regime that restricted their movement and political expression. For two decades, Palestinian citizens of Israel were cut off from friends and relatives on the other side of the Green Line, as well as from the broader Arab world. Yet they were not passive in the face of this profound isolation. Palestinian intellectuals, party organizers, and cultural producers in Israel turned to the written word. Through writers like Mahmoud Darwish and Samih al-Qasim, poetry, journalism, fiction, and nonfiction became sites of resistance and connection alike. With this book, Nassar examines their well-known poetry and uncovers prose works that have, until now, been largely overlooked. The writings of Palestinians in Israel played a key role in fostering a shared national consciousness and would become a central means of alerting Arabs in the region to the conditions—and to the defiance—of these isolated Palestinians.
Publisher’s description: Harvey Pekar’s mother was a Zionist by way of politics. His father was a Zionist by way of faith. Whether Harvey was going to daily Hebrew classes or attending Zionist picnics, he grew up a staunch supporter of the Jewish state. But soon he found himself questioning the very beliefs and ideals of his parents. In Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me, the final graphic memoir from the man who defined the genre, Pekar explores what it means to be Jewish and what Israel means to the Jews. Over the course of a single day in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, Pekar and the illustrator JT Waldman wrestle with the mythologies and realities surrounding the Jewish homeland. Pekar interweaves his increasing disillusionment with the modern state of Israel with a comprehensive history of the Jewish people from biblical times to the present, and the result is a personal and historical odyssey of uncommon power. Plainspoken and empathetic, Pekar had no patience for injustice and prejudice in any form, and though he comes to understand the roots of his parents’ unquestioning love for Israel, he arrives at the firm belief that all peoples should be held to the same universal standards of decency, fairness, and democracy.
Publisher’s description: A chance encounter in New York brings two strangers together: Liat is an idealistic translation student, Hilmi a talented young painter. Together they explore the city, share fantasies, jokes and homemade meals, and fall in love. There is only one problem: Liat is from Israel, Hilmi from Palestine. Keeping their deepening relationship secret, the two lovers build an intimate universe for two in this city far from home. But outside reality can only be kept at bay for so long. After a tempestuous visit from Hilmi’s brother, cracks begin to form in the relationship, and their points of difference – Liat’s military service, Hilmi’s hopes for Palestine’s future – threaten to overwhelm their shared present. When they return separately to their divided countries, Liat and Hilmi must decide whether to keep going, or let go. A prizewinning bestseller, but banned in Israeli schools for its frank and tender depiction of a taboo relationship, this is the deeply affecting story of two people trying to bridge one of the most deeply riven borders in the world.
Publisher’s description: When Rania—the only female Palestinian police detective in the northern West Bank, as well as a young mother in a rural community where many believe women should not have such a dangerous career—discovers the body of a foreign woman on the edge of her village, no one seems to want her look too deeply into what’s happened. But she finds an ally in Chloe—a gay, Jewish-American peace worker with a camera and a big attitude—and together, with the help of an annoying Israeli policeman, they work to solve the murder. As they do, secrets about war crimes and Israel’s thriving sex trafficking trade begin to surface—and Rania finds everything she holds dear in jeopardy.
Publisher’s description: White City, Black City is a story of two intertwining narratives which reveals the hidden history of the region where now stands modern-day Tel Aviv. The new architectural landscape of this city, its Bauhaus-influenced modernist architecture glittering white, represents one side of the story, that of the White City, which rose from the sparse sand dunes to house a new Jewish society. But there is a second story – that of the Black City of Jaffa, the traces of which lie on the outskirts of the region, and which are rarely mentioned. In this book, Sharon Rotbard blows apart this palimpsest in a clear, fluent and challenging style, which promises to force the reality of what so many have praised as ‘progress’ into the mainstream discourse. White City, Black City is, all at once, an angry uncovering of a vanished history, a book mourning the loss of an architectural heritage, a careful study in urban design and a beautifully written narrative history.
Publisher’s description: Sabaaneh, a talented political cartoonist from Palestine, has gained worldwide renown for his stark black-and-white sketches, which draw attention to brutalities of the Israeli occupation and celebrate the Palestinians’ popular resistance. These provocative drawings do not flinch from tackling the tough subjects that confront Palestinians, from Israel’s everyday injustices in the West Bank to their frequent military operations on Gaza. This collection includes 180 of Sabaaneh’s best cartoons, some of them depicting the experience of Palestinian political prisoners being held in Israel.
Reviews: Electronic Intifada
Atef Abu Saif (ed.): The book of Gaza: A city in short fiction (Comma Books, 2014, paperback, £9.99)
Publisher’s description: Under the Israeli occupation of the ’70s and ’80s, writers in Gaza had to go to considerable lengths to ever have a chance of seeing their work in print. Manuscripts were written out longhand, invariably under pseudonyms, and smuggled out of the Strip to Jerusalem, Cairo or Beirut, where they then had to be typed up. Consequently, fiction grew shorter, novels became novellas, and short stories flourished as the city’s form of choice. Indeed, to Palestinians elsewhere, Gaza became known as ‘the exporter of oranges and short stories’. This anthology brings together some of the pioneers of the Gazan short story from that era, as well as younger exponents of the form, with ten stories that offer glimpses of life in the Strip that go beyond the global media headlines; stories of anxiety, oppression, and violence, but also of resilience and hope, of what it means to be a Palestinian, and how that identity is continually being reforged; stories of ordinary characters struggling to live with dignity in what many have called ‘the largest prison in the world’.
Publisher’s description: A crossroads of religions, politics, and cultures with deep symbolic and historical significance, the holy land of Palestine has a resonance far greater than its size. Notably, the centuries-old conflict there has catapulted this tiny area to the center of the world stage. For reasons such as these, Palestine has long been a source of fascination for photographers, and it is one of the most frequently photographed places in the world. This engrossing publication examines images of Palestine taken over the course of nearly 200 years, showing the various phases of its pictorial history. Elias Sanbar provides commentaries on this impressive and visually stunning opus, showing how a highly symbolic place and its people have been both captured and abstracted by the camera.
Publisher’s description: The Erasure Trilogy explores the anguish caused by the loss of memory—by forgetting, amnesia or suppression—and the resulting human desire to preserve memory, all seen through the prism of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Memory Trace depicts the ruins caused by the Arab-Israeli War of 1948: portraits of those traumatized by violence, devastated landscapes and fragments of buildings. This visual poem suggests the irreparable loss of a lingering past that augurs a painful and difficult future. Tracing the ironic consequences of David Ben-Gurion’s dream of settling the Negev and making the “desert bloom,” the aerial photographs in Sheikh’s Desert Bloom reveal the myriad actions that have displaced and erased the Bedouins who have lived in the desert for generations. Here we see the extreme transformation of the landscape through erosion, mining, military training camps, the demolition of villages and afforestation. Through Sheikh’s lens the desert becomes both an archive of violence and a record of human attempts to erase it. Independence | Nakba consists of sixty-six diptychs — one for each year since 1948 — pairing people from both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and of gradually increasing age. The double portraits query the relations between Israelis and Palestinians before the founding of the Israeli State (each image depicts either someone who lived in Palestine before the founding of the Israeli State, or someone whose ancestors did). Desert Bloom Notes (…) explores the historical and contemporary clues along the shifting surface of the desert, and what lies hidden, sealed within Sheikh’s aerial landscapes of the Negev.
Reviews: New York Times
Sara Shilo: The falafel king is dead (Portobello, 2012, paperback, £7.99)
Publisher’s description: The town has lost its famed falafel king, but the Dadon family have also lost a father and husband. Living with the daily threat of Katyusha missiles from neighbouring Lebanon, and struggling to survive amid the rubble of their lives, Simona and her three children each find their own way of coping with their grief, their fear and their hopes. Raw, lyrical, shocking and moving, Sara Shilo’s powerful debut novel recounts the life of an ordinary Israeli family over the course of a single, extraordinary day in prose that we have never before encountered in contemporary Hebrew literature.
Publisher’s description:Keep Your Eye on the Wall brings together seven award-winning artist-photographers and four essayists, all responding to the Wall in images or words, specially commissioned for this book. The photographers present unique perspectives, whether documenting the journey of labourers across the barrier, the desolation of abandoned checkpoints or the tattered posters of “martyrs” on a wall in Gaza. Mitchell Albert and Olivia Snaije envisioned a book that would curate a selection of wall graffiti past and present, from the great names in the form to young Palestinians who sprayed their initials by the people whose lives were most affected: Palestinians themselves.
Reviews: Palestine Book Awards
Ahdaf Soueif & Omar Robert Hamilton (Eds.): This Is Not A Border Reportage & Reflection from the Palestine Festival of Literature (Bloomsbury, 2017, paperback, £16.99)
Publisher’s description: The Palestine Festival of Literature was established in 2008. Bringing together writers from all corners of the globe, it aims to help Palestinians break the cultural siege imposed by the Israeli military occupation, to strengthen their artistic links with the rest of the world, and to reaffirm, in the words of Edward Said, ‘the power of culture over the culture of power’. Celebrating the tenth anniversary of PalFest, This Is Not a Border is a collection of essays, poems and stories from some of the world’s most distinguished artists, responding to their experiences at this unique festival. Both heartbreaking and hopeful, their gathered work is a testament to the power of literature to promote solidarity and courage in the most desperate of situations.
Publisher’s description: Joshua is thirteen. He lives with his mother and stepfather in Amarias, an isolated town on top of a hill, where all the houses are brand new. At the edge of Amarias is a high wall, guarded by soldiers, which can only be crossed through a heavily fortified checkpoint. Joshua has been taught that beyond the concrete is a brutal and unforgiving enemy, and that The Wall is the only thing keeping him and his people safe. One day, looking for a lost football, Joshua stumbles across a tunnel which leads towards this forbidden territory. He knows he won’t get another opportunity to see what is beyond The Wall until he’s old enough for military service, and the chance to crawl through and solve the mystery is too tempting to resist. He’s heard plenty of stories about the other side, but nothing has prepared him for what he finds… The Wall is a novel about a boy who undertakes a short journey to another world, to a place where everything he knows about loyalty, identity and justice is turned upside down. It is also a political fable that powerfully evokes the realities of life on the West Bank, telling the story of a Settler child who finds there are two sides to every story.
Publisher’s description: Omar is an orphaned Palestinian born into chaos and driven by forces beyond his control to find his place in the world. He has only one thing to hold on to: a love that propels him forward. Nadia is young and idealistic. Her attempts to be oblivious to the bleak reality in Damascus are thwarted by her cowardly brother. Will she be able to break out of her traditional social mould to create her own destiny? Heartbreaking and moving, Bitter Almonds is about displacement and exile, family duty and honour, and the universal feelings of love and loss.
Publisher’s description: Adaf and Tidhar are two of Israel’s most subversive and politically outspoken writers. Growing up on opposite sides of the Israeli spectrum – Tidhar in the north of Israel in the Zionist, socialist Kibbutz; Adaf from a family of religious Mizrahi Jews living in Sderot – the two nevertheless shared a love of books, and were especially drawn to the strange visions and outrageous sensibilities of the science fiction that was available in Hebrew. Here, they engage in a dialogue that covers their approach to writing the fantastic, as they question how to write about Israel and Palestine, about Judaism, about the Holocaust, about childhoods and their end. Extending the conversation even into their fiction, the book contains two brand new short stories – “Tutim” by Tidhar, and “third attribute” by Adaf – in which each appears as a character in the other’s tale; simultaneously political and fantastical, they burn with an angry, despairing intensity.
Reviews: 972 Mag
Lena Khalaf Tuffaha: Water & Salt (Red Hen Press, 2107, paperback, £12.99)
Publisher’s description: The poems in Water & Salt travel across borders between cultures and languages, between the present and the living past. These poems alternately rage, laugh, celebrate and grieve, singing in the voices of people ravaged by cycles of war and news coverage and inviting the reader to see the human lives lived beyond the headlines.
Publisher’s description: I remember my name is a moving collection of poems by three Palestinian poets whose poetic vision is at once Palestinian and universal. It is a tribute to Arabic literature and to the striving for a common justice and humaneness. It is dedicated to those who resisted, who suffered, and who live the Palestinian sumoud – steadfastness. All three poets enjoy high literary profiles in the West and the Middle East: Samah, is an author, playwright, poet and political commentator, Ramzy is an author, poet, editor, political commentator and Jehan is a poet and political commentator. All three are highly respected and renowned Palestinian activists.
Publisher’s description: At 26, Udi is a veteran of the Israeli army and has killed five men. He wants a new life in a new place. He has a cousin in England. Daniel is 29, a Londoner, an investment banker and a Jew. He wants for nothing, yet he too is unable to escape an intangible yearning for something more. And for less. He looks to Israel for the answer. But as the war with Hamas breaks out, Daniel cannot know that the star-crossed love of a Jewish girl and an Arabic man in Jerusalem a decade earlier, will soon complicate all that he thinks has become clear.
Publisher’s description: This 1949 novella about the violent expulsion of Palestinian villagers by the Israeli army has long been considered a modern Hebrew masterpiece, and it has also given rise to fierce controversy over the years. Published just months after the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Khirbet Khizeh (…) was an immediate sensation when it first appeared. (…) The various debates it has prompted would themselves make Khirbet Khizeh worth reading, but the novella is much more than a vital historical document: it is also a great work of art. Yizhar’s haunting, lyrical style and charged registration of the landscape are in many ways as startling as his wrenchingly honest view of one of Israel’s defining moments. Despite its international reputation, this is the first UK publication of Khirbet Khizeh.
Ghassan Zaqtan: Like a straw bird it follows me: And other poems (Yale University Press, 2012, paperback, £9.99)
Publisher’s description: In this inspired translation of Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, Ghassan Zaqtan’s tenth and most recent poetry collection,along with selected earlier poems, Fady Joudah brings to English-language readers the best work by one of the most important and original Palestinian poets of our time. With these poems Zaqtan enters new terrain, illuminating the vision of what Arabic poetry in general and Palestinian poetry in particular are capable of. Departing from the lush aesthetics of such celebrated predecessors as Mahmoud Darwish and Adonis, Zaqtan’s daily, delicate narrative, whirling catalogues, and at times austere aesthetics represent a new trajectory, a significant leap for young Arabic poets today.
Publisher’s description: When he was seven years old, Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan moved with his family to a Karameh refugee camp east of the River Jordan. That camp—a center of Palestinian resistance following the Six-Day War and the site of major devastation when Israel razed the camp following the Battle of Karameh in 1968—is the setting for Zaqtan’s first prose work to appear in English. This novella is a coming of age story, a tale of youth set amid the death and chaos of war and violence. It is an elegy for the loss of a childhood friend, and for childhood itself, brought back to life here as if dreams and memories have merged into a new state of being, an altered consciousness and way of being in and remembering the world.