"How can an essentially sad story give such pleasure? The answer is in these narratives: these stories, memoirs, poems are a pleasure and an education; personal, vivid, original, sometimes witty, always accomplished and always honest. They are a testimonial to the human spirit, and to the growing contribution of Palestine to literature."
--Adhaf Soueif, author of In the Eye of the Sun
Palestinian writers explore exile and home in this edited volume. While beautiful and haunting, the pieces never reduce exile to a realm of pure romance but instead politicize and historicize the displacement of Palestinians since the 1948 Nakba ( castastrophe ). Johnson (independent researcher, Institute of Women s Studies, Birzeit Univ.) and Shehadeh (a lawyer; author of Occupation Diaries, 2012) take their inspiration from the Palestine Festival of Literature, where the anthology was originally conceived. Contributors draw on the intimate and visceral, from Lila Abu-Lughod s memories of her father, to Fady Joudah s verse revelations on the insights of his children, to Karma Nabulsi s tracing of Palestinian revolutionary life across generations. In Adania Shibli s Of Place, Time, and Language, the author recounts how her watch curiously stops moving during an Israeli airport security search: maybe it simply refuses to count the time that is seized from my life. The book s sections, Exile/Home, Home/Exile, and At Home in What World? structure an arc, moving from displacement across great distance, to internal exile, and finally the possible or impossible future: the exile s object of longing. Selected images from artist Emily Jacir precede each section, juxtaposing photographs with Arabic and English text. An indispensable work for popular and scholarly collections. Summing Up: Essential.
Editors Johnson and Shehadeh bring together 15 Palestinian writers and artists, some famous and others relative unknowns, to share their impressions of and reflections on the 'quandaries of exile and unrequited homesickness...' Deeply personal...these contributions... explore the consequences of embracing an identity where 'home is forbidden from being home.'
Whereas writing on Palestine is often encumbered by the baggage of ideology, and writings from within Palestine are unfortunately few, this collection of essays frames itself as writing in search of Palestine, seeking less to represent a place than to capture its imaginations...Throughout, the authors work to untether the hyphenated nation-state, embracing instead the future of a people. Since, as poet and physician Fady Joudah reflects, what has not yet arrived has not yet been lost.
"...a unique collection of writing and images by artists coming from a variety of different disciplines, from academics in the social and political sciences, to poets, award-winning fiction and nonfiction writers, the writers of bestsellers as well as visual artists. It is a motley variety of styles and approaches with an unwaveringly high quality of writing throughout, a credit to the editors as well as the contributors themselves. This is an extraordinarily frank, fresh and unsentimental assessment of what Palestinians are and have become. It is not only a testimony as to the strength, dedication and sticking power of Palestinian people, but also of the writers themselves." --Electronic Intifada
"A particular strength of this book is its ability to reach out to different experiences of exile. Many people can relate to the feeling of being a foreigner, and the implications that might have on their lives, decisions and the choices they make along the way...each chapter of Seeking Palestine offers a new element to the image of Palestine, weaving together an eclectic mix of writers, each offering a new lens through which to view, understand and imagine their country and exile."
Middle East Monitor
This collection of essays captures the challenges facing Palestinians today, both those who live within the occupied territories and those abroad. Honest, humorous, politically charged and intimate, the anthology emerged from Palfest, the Palestinian literary festival whose participants include authors from all over the world. Through dialogue amongst writers from Palestine and abroad, the idea for such a text came into being. Penny Johnson writes expressively in her introduction: it seemed very much like our writers were conversing with each other and with Palestinian writers before them exchanging memories, reflections, an occasional joke or a poignant moment of sorrow, like friends on a summer night in the cool hills of Palestine. --Banipal
Wry, candid, poignant, Seeking Palestine is a tribute to a people who no matter how displaced and dispossessed remain nevertheless determined.
– Rakhshanda Jalil, The Hindu
Seeking Palestine: New Palestinian Writing on Exile and Home, edited by Penny Johnson and Raja Shehadeh, is a unique collection of writing and images by artists coming from a variety of different disciplines, from academics in the social and political sciences, to poets, award-winning fiction and nonfiction writers, the writers of bestsellers as well as visual artists. It is a motley variety of styles and approaches with an unwaveringly high quality of writing throughout, a credit to the editors as well as the contributors themselves. This is an extraordinarily frank, fresh and unsentimental assessment of what Palestinians are and have become. It is not only a testimony as to the strength, dedication and sticking power of Palestinian people, but also of the writers themselves.