Book About Palestinian Poet Taha Muhammad Ali Wins Jewish Quarterly Prize

Victoria Brittain reads from an English translation of a Taha Muhammad Ali poem at this year's PalFest while the author sits nearby. Ali was celebrated at this year's festival.

The Literary Saloon announced today that Adina Hoffman has won the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Literary Prize for her My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness.

Hoffman’s book—which I haven’t read—tells the story of poet Taha Muhammad Ali, who was born in 1931 in the Galilee village of Saffuriyya. Ali fled his village during the Nakba, but later returned. He later ran a souvenir shop while writing his poetry. National Book Critics Circle Award–winner Eliot Weinberger has called Ali “perhaps the most accessible and delightful poet alive today.”

You can read a review of Hoffman’s book in The Guardian;  you can also order some of his (translated) poetry online, or get it at your favorite independent bookshop.

Susan Abulhawa writes about the Taha Muhammad Ali reading on her PalFest blog entry. She also included this poem in translation:

Lovers of hunting,
and beginners seeking your prey:
Don’t aim your rifles
at my happiness,
which isn’t worth
the price of the bullet
(you’d waste on it).
What seems to you
so nimble and fine,
like a fawn,
and flees
every which way,
like a partridge,
isn’t happiness.
Trust me:
my happiness bears
no relation to happiness.