Lead Review

  • Book: The Book of Ramallah (Reading The City)
  • Location: Ramallah, West Bank
  • Author: Maya Abu Al-Hayat (editor)

Review Author: Tina Hartas



Ramallah is a Palestinian city perched high on a hill in the occupied West Bank. It is a city that is both ancient and modern – and has become well known in recent years as the seat of the Palestinian government. It is a vibrant place with strong cultural connections and a thriving café society. It is also surrounded by ever encroaching Israeli settlements, and Israeli soldiers are often seen on its streets. It is a city under occupation.

Maya Abu Al-Hayat has assembled ten short stories that describe various aspects of life in Ramallah – from a girl forced to kiss a stranger by soldiers at an Israeli check point, to the early morning adventures of a street cleaner, to the events surrounding a football match between a city team and a team from a nearby refugee camp, to what happened to a woman whose patch of land to grow food was bulldozed to make way for a settlement road, even to a woman who married a horse! Tales that tell of both the normal, and abnormal, events in the life of the citizens of Ramallah. The are written by ten very talented local writers, and translated by ten equally talented linguists. You get a real feel for the place, and the issues it faces.

The Book of Ramallah is the latest in the ‘Reading the City’ series published by Comma Press. It is a great series featuring translated short stories from almost 20 cities around the world. Reading one is a great way to get under the skin of somewhere and experience it as the local do – warts and all.

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