The Scar of David

Susan Abulhawa, Author
Susan Abulhawa, Author . New South $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-58838-198-9
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-0-9772078-8-6
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Abulhawa's first novel is an earnest but heavy-handed depiction of the 20th century through Palestinian eyes. The book opens in the Arab village of Ein Hod, outside Jerusalem, as a farmer named Yehya witnesses the destruction of his home in the war following Israel's founding in 1948. The book then follows Yehya's granddaughter, Amal, from her youth in a refugee camp to America (strange but full of opportunity), then her reunion with her family in Lebanon. There she falls in love with a doctor named Majid and becomes pregnant, but returns to America as many of her loved ones become enmeshed in the brutal Lebanese civil war of the 1980s and the Israeli occupation. With the Oslo peace accords, Amal finally returns to the country of her birth, but finds that the situation there remains tense and violent. While Amal's story is undeniably tragic, Abulhawa surrounds her with paper-thin characters, Arab and Jewish alike. The Palestinians want "only to live on their land as they always had," while the Israelis are murderers and baby-snatchers who use the Holocaust to justify their actions. Equal parts clumsy history lesson and melodrama, this book does little to shed light on one of the world's most complex conflicts. (Sept.)

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