My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet’s Life in the Palestinian Century

Adina Hoffman, Author
Adina Hoffman, Author . Yale Univ. $27.50 (464p) ISBN 978-0-300-14150-4
Reviewed on: 01/26/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
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That his happiness bears a strong relationship to dispossession and exile makes Israeli Arab poet Taha Muhamad Ali, subject of this luminous biography, an iconic voice of the Palestinian consciousness. The 17-year-old Taha and his family lost their home when the Israeli army captured and demolished their village, Saffuriyya, in 1948. After a lifetime spent running a souvenir shop in Nazareth, he has recently won international acclaim for his poetry. Intersecting his perceptions with Hoffman’s own account of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict (which sometimes favors the Palestinians), Israeli-American essayist Hoffman (House of Windows: Portraits from a Jerusalem Neighborhood ) uses his story as the starting point for a painterly reconstruction of the lost world of Saffuriyya and its diaspora. Hoffman is a perceptive reader of Taha’s work (which she places in the context of a dynamic Palestinian literary scene) , appreciating its formal inventiveness, its dapplings of melancholy and exuberance, and its grounding in the pungent details and vernacular of village life. Looking past the usual strident politics, Hoffman presents readers with a subtle, moving evocation of the human realities of the Palestinian experience, rooted in land and memory. Photos. (Apr.)

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