Three poignant novellas about life-in-exile from Palestinian writer Badr, born in Jerusalem and now living in Tunisia. The stories, set mainly in Beirut, are preoccupied with exile but with not forgetting homes in Israel, in Jordan, and then in Beirut, from which Palestinians have been driven as conflicts ravage the region. ``A Land of Rock and Thyme'' is told by Ysra, a young woman whose husband, a resistance fighter from the West Bank, has been killed in an Israeli raid into South Lebanon. A disturbing dream about a visit to the Martyrs' Cemetery leads Ysra to recall her father, who was killed by a shell while she was fetching water in the refugee camp, as well as her first meeting with her husband, and their brief, idyllic visit to his native village. Now pregnant and a widow, she is a woman ``dressed in black'' trying to understand that these are the times of bitterness, but that there ``will be times of beauty and light.'' The second piece, the title story, is set in war-torn Beirut--a place where, after a night's bombardment, a mother notices in horror a white hair on her baby's head. A range of voices, the people who frequent Suad's flower- filled balcony in the Fakihani district, tell about the Tunisian- born fighter Umar, Suad's husband, who survived a near-fatal illness, then died in a bomb blast. Last, ``The Canary and the Sea'' is the memoir of a young man whose family was exiled from the West Bank--``the country that was beyond my reach''--only to become a prisoner of war in Israel, exchanged later for an Israeli, and then, compounding the pain of exile once back in Beirut, expelled to Tunisia. Unapologetically partisan, but the writing is good enough to rise above politics and tell moving tales of a troubled people living in an even more troubled place.