I Was Born There, I Was Born Here

Mourid Barghouti, trans. from the Arabic by Humphrey Davies. Walker, $25 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8027-7997-7
In a series of grim, emotive essays set in the occupied territories of Israel, the long exiled Jordanian Palestinian poet Barghouti (I See Ramallah) recounts his return with his grown son and delineates the terrible changes he witnessed in the villages of his childhood and within his own family. Born in Deir Ghassanah, near Ramallah on the West Bank, in 1944, and displaced from his home with his family after the Nakba (as the Arabs call the “catastrophe” (nakba means catastrophe in Arabic) of the founding of Israel in 1948), Barghouti was largely schooled in Cairo; after being forcibly expelled from Egypt in 1977, despite being married to an Egyptian woman and with a newborn son, Tamim, the author lived in Budapest for 13 years, hindered from seeing his family except for short periods and essentially rendered helpless to protect them. In the essay “Father and Son,” Barghouti reconstructs the moment of returning to the land of his youth with the then 21-year-old Tamim, who had finally received an Israeli entry permit and was able to see firsthand the police state under which the Palestinian villages were held, involving arbitrary checkpoints, arrests, and interrogation. Yet while relentlessly critical of the Israelis, Barghouti also comes down hard on the failed Palestinian leadership, describing how his land was lost “through drowsiness, slumber, and trickery.” Barghouti vividly describes the Palestinian sense of “invisibility” juxtaposed with Israeli aggression to portray an untenable yet fiercely ongoing state of flux and conflict. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/14/2012
Release date: 07/17/2012
Hardcover - 216 pages - 978-1-4088-1558-8
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-4088-2909-7
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-8027-4352-7
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