The emotionally powerful memoir of an exiled Palestinian poet.
Barghouti (Midnight and Other Poems, 2008, etc.) won the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature for I Saw Ramallah, an account of his return to Ramallah in 1996 after a 30-year absence. In this sequel, he returns to introduce that land to his son, Tamim, who was born in Cairo to Barghouti’s Egyptian wife and is a stranger in his father’s homeland. When the author writes of olives and coffee as metaphors for relationships, the poet in him shines through. When he writes of Israelis, his hatred is raw and his language loaded. Barghouti leaves no doubt about his feelings about Israel, nor about the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, whose “corruption is firm, deeply rooted, and beyond redemption,” nor about Arab dictatorships, which are “enamored to the point of scandal with their colonizers.” Barghouti’s chapters can be read as stand-alone essays, and one of the most unforgettable is “The Ambulance,” an account of slipping through the Qalandya checkpoint by riding inside an ambulance bearing a fragile old woman to a hospital in Ramallah. The memoir is full of flashbacks, and in this piece the flashback is to the death of his older brother Mounif. The fragments of poems embedded throughout the book often provide powerful images that speak louder than the author’s sometimes harsh condemnations.
A moving picture of one man’s personal grief and undying anger.