Among the Almond trees by Hussein Barghouthi

Among the Almond trees by Hussein Barghouthi

Palestinian Memoir

Original title – Sa’ akin bayn al-Lawz

Source – personal copy

I wanted to add a lot more arabic literature this year but have failed so far I looked at a list from Arablit where they had some books coming out this year and this was one that was mentioned although I had to wait ages for it to arrive as the publication got pushed back of I had to wait for a reprint maybe. What had caught my eye about this book was the description which remind me of one of my fav orate books from year ago I saw Ramallah from Mourid Borghouti which was one of my favourite books and now years later sticks with me with the images of a man returning to his home of Ramallah after many years away. This has a similar premise we see Hussein come home to the countryside around Ramallah where he grew up. But this is a man that is near the end of his life coping with terminal cancer. He had Taught in Europe mainly in Hungary and was the found of the House of Poets in Palestine and also worked on a number of literary magazines. he passed away twenty years ago.

After an absence of thirty years I have returned to live in the countryside near Ramallah – “returned to the beauty that had been betrayed” I had exiled myself from my beginnings and chosen to live as an expatriate. I am one who has perfected “Beginnings” but not” endings”. My return therefore is an imperfect ending

The opening paragraph I was so touched with the ending comment to face death is so hard

As the translator says h=in his intro this is a man struggling with lymphoma and it is his thoughts of life and art but also how he is going to die and ascending into heaven. He has returned to a place that he left thirty years earlier he is near the end of his life and as we follow him as he walks out in the countryside around Ramallah the past and present and future all blend as he walks in the shadows of those almond trees in the day ion the night as he looks back and forward. The book is a poets looking and gathering the final curtain of his life the people he knew his wife and young child his parents. The mountains as memories of his youth flood in as we see a memory of place open up. as we see what was more wilderness in his day now changed but he still finds the wild parts of the area and the Monastery which look large in the story. He talks about people having country and cities of there names as he sees his city in the book.

Among my friends would be Ali Baba and Enkidu, and all those who were born and loved and lived in stories, Stories are the windows of the Spirit and the imagination. When, for example, quaddura spreads his abs on the roof of the monastery and sang and played his rabbi, looking out moonlit wadis, on orchards ploughed planted, on wide obscure distances, he opened a window for his voice in the moonlight space and his voice occupied an eternal domain. His song would then become the city of his name

Where are you from ?

I’m from the country of windows

Stories is often how people are remembered when they pass !

This is a short memoir of a man who has come home to far e the ghost of his past a poet a writer this book is a man looking at a police he once knew and reliving the past as he faces the end and trying to remember the past the translator mentions this as a work as a memory of place the ghosts of our past. I am someone that remembers most events in my life and the places they happen I am haunted and often relive them like Hussein does when he returns after all the years away from his homeland. It remind me of Sebald at time the way he used place to link to the past. This is one of two works he wrote near the end of his life they are both coming out from seagull book the other book Blue light is a flip of this book as it is set around his journey from Seattle with a homeless madman. This book is different to I saw Ramallah as  this is a lot more personal and lot more around the view of the end of your life. But it has the same feeling of loss in the past and returning to find the world you once knew gone or just there as ghosts in your memory. This is a powerful work of memoir of a man facing death. Do you have a favourite book set in Palestine ?

Winstons score – +A touching and sad memoir from a poet

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Winstonsdads Dozen of 2023 | Winstonsdad's Blog

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