Talking Location With author Daniella Bernett – MALTA
Five great books set in PALESTINE
19th August 2020
Palestine is the latest place for us to visit in our ‘Great books set in…’ series. Five great books set in PALESTINE.
Palestine…if I could give you any gift, I’d give you love and laughter, a peaceful heart, a special dream and jopy forever after’.
Staircase of a Thousand Steps by Masha Hamilton
Set in Transjordan just before the 1967 war with Israel, Staircase of a Thousand Steps is a remarkably well-written, thoroughly absorbing novel that takes us to a place where memory whispers like fear, where visions of a long-ago forbidden love affair haunt a precocious young girl — and where the flare of old rivalries can be as sudden as searing as the desert wind.
The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corosanti
Gifted with a brilliant mind that has made a deep impression on the elders of his Palestinian village, Ahmed Hamid is nevertheless tormented by his inability to save his friends and family. Living under occupation, the inhabitants of the village harbour a constant fear of losing their homes, jobs, belongings – and each other.
On Ahmed’s twelfth birthday, that fear becomes a reality.
With his father now imprisoned, his family’s home and possessions confiscated and his siblings quickly succumbing to hatred in the face of conflict, Ahmed embarks on a journey to liberate his loved ones from their hardship, using his prodigious intellect. In so doing, he begins to reclaim a love for others that had been lost over the course of a childhood rife with violence, and discovers new hope for the future.
A Month by the Sea: Encounters in Gaza by Dervla Murphy
Bombed and cut-off from normal contact with the rest of the world, life in Gaza is beset with structural, medical and mental health problems, yet it is also bursting with political engagement and underwritten by an intense enjoyment of family life.
During her “Month By The Sea”, Dervla Murphy develops an acute eye for the way in which isolation has shaped this society. Time and again she meets men who have returned to the Strip as an act of presence. Yet the mosque is often their only daily activity, as difficulties obtaining supplies mean few opportunities for creative work. This acts as a recruiting sergeant for the Islamist Qassam brigades and a pressure cooker for the creation of domestic tyrants.
In this situation, Dervla becomes a shameless supporter of women’s rights – acting as agony aunt and feminist mentor by turn.
Somewhere, Home by Nada Awar Jarrar
This remarkable novel, winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, tells the story of three women, each of them far from where they came, all of whom are still searching for somewhere that can be called home.
Maysa returns to the house that was her grandparents’ when she was a child, in a village high on the slopes of Mount Lebanon. Aida, who has long since left the country of her birth, returns in search of the Palestinian refugee who was a second father to her when she was a child. And Salwa, now an old woman, recalls her life from her hospital bed, surrounded by her family but still, in some sense, far from home.
Drinking the Sea at Gaza by Amira Hass
In 1993, Amira Hass, a young Israeli reporter, drove to Gaza to cover a story-and stayed, the first journalist to live in the grim Palestinian enclave so feared and despised by most Israelis that, in the local idiom, “Go to Gaza” is another way to say “Go to hell.” Now, in a work of calm power and painful clarity, Hass reflects on what she has seen in the Gaza Strips’s gutted streets and destitute refugee camps.
‘Drinking the Sea at Gaza’ maps the zones of ordinary Palestinian life. From her friends, Hass learns the secrets of slipping across sealed borders and stealing through night streets emptied by curfews. She shares Gaza’s early euphoria over the peace process and its subsequent despair as hope gives way to unrelenting hardship. But even as Hass charts the griefs and humiliations of the Palestinians, she offers a remarkable portrait of a people not brutalized but eloquent, spiritually resilient, bleakly funny, and morally courageous.
Full of testimonies and stories, facts and impressions, Drinking the Sea at Gaza makes an urgent claim on our humanity. Beautiful, haunting, and profound, it will stand with the great works of wartime reportage.
For our full collection of books set in Palestine, just access the TripFiction database
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