A very timely novel
Patricia Rantisi spent 38 years living and working in Ramallah, married to a Palestinian vicar. Her very timely book, a historical novel, tells the history of the last 60 years in Palestine through the eyes of a young Palestinian Muslim, Farres, who was born and brought up in a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. We follow Farres from his childhood, through the shocking events in Sabra and Shatila camps in 1982 and his eventual journey to the UK to study medicine. In flashback, we also learn the story of Miriam, his great-grandmother who was forced into exile with her family in 1948 during the Nakba. Through this moving and well-structured story, we hear the authentic voice of a young Palestinian man – it almost seems at times as if Patricia Rantisi is able to inhabit his head (perhaps many years working in a boys’ orphanage helped here!) The book is also very well-researched and brings the locations in Palestine, Lebanon and the UK to life for the reader. Although the characters are fictitious, the events, locations and dates are real. Patricia Rantisi also conveys how intertwined are the lives and fates of Palestinian Christians and Muslims, making it clear that it is the Israeli occupation, not Islam that threatens Christians in the Holy Land and exploding the myth of the 'land without a people'. This novel manages to pack in a lot of history in a very approachable and personal way. Highly recommended reading.
Was this review helpful to you?YESNO