An absorbing, provocative memoir by an unorthodox Palestinian poet and essayist. Fawaz Turki (Soul in Exile, 1988, etc.) was born in Haifa and raised after 1948, when he was eight, in the refugee camps of Beirut. His exile took him to places as diverse as Melbourne, Singapore, and Washington, DC. In the early '90s he returned to his ""homeground"" after a 40-year absence. Turki skillfully weaves scenes of his own tumultuous past with impressions of his people's past and present plight, and he is unsparing in his criticism of Palestinian values and society, which he perceives as stifling and authoritarian. Haunted by the poisoning of his teenage sister to preserve family honor (she had engaged in premarital sex), Turki rails against the constrictions placed on women in the Muslim world. He deems the PLO leadership inept and corrupt and says that the ""kids who represent Hamas are notoriously vicious. They rule through intimidation, brutality and murder."" Though he has little tolerance for the anti-Jewish bigotry endemic to the Arab world -- and was married to a Jewish woman in the US -- Turki paints a disturbing picture of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. ""There is not a single Palestinian who does not know someone who has been imprisoned, deported, shot or had his land expropriated, his village placed under collective punishment, his freedom to travel, study, [or] build a house, denied."" For all his empathy, Turki has freed himself from the chains of nationalism and religion -- but his personal life reveals periodic subservience to destructive bouts of cocaine, alcohol, and womanizing. Feeling more at home in the West than in the Middle East, this pained free spirit has no desire to go home, but his soul is genuinely touched by the likely emergence of a Palestinian state. This compelling memoir reveals much about a particular expatriate and the people he has left behind.