Update on Barghouti’s /I Was Born There, I Was Born Here/

The cover of the Arabic edition, from Dar al-Rais.

Bibliophiles take note: Palestinian poet Mourid Bargouti’s new memoir is set to come out in  in English next fall from American University in Cairo Press. The translation of Bargouti’s second memoir, I Was Born There, I Was Born Here (ولدت هناك، ولدت هنا), is being done by Humphrey Davies.

Davies also translated Elias Khoury’s Gate of the Sun and Yalo, as well as Alaa el-Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building, and a number of other works.

Barghouti’s second memoir is being billed as a sequel to his beautiful and much-lauded I Saw Ramallah (Arabic: 1997, English: 2000). I Was Born There, I Was Born Here was originally published by Dar Al-Rais in 2009.

The Al Akhbar review of I Was Born There, I Was Born Here promises that those who enjoyed I Saw Ramallah will not be disappointed by this second memoir. In I Saw Ramallah, Bargouti wrote about his return home after thirty years in exile. In I Was Born There, I Was Born Here, he returns again, this time with his son Tamim.

The Reuters news service review says the book is full of misery, but also of laughter. The book is written in Barghouti’s sometimes sparse poetic style, and is full of small joys:

” اخرج من الطابور. امسك بيد تميم. ندخل معا قاعة الحقائب بفرح. نخرج الى الشارع.اضمه ويضمني في عناق جديد على ارض يراها لاول مرة منذ ان ولدته رضوى قبل واحد وعشرين عاما. تميم في فلسطين.”

For anyone who loves literature, life, laughing, poetry, thinking, or humanity, this will be a must-read of fall 2011. Mark your calendars now.

Also: You can participate in our Summer Reading Challenge by signing up to read Barghouti’s I Saw Ramallah, translated by the excellent Ahdaf Soueif.

And one more thing: Felipe Arruda happened to be looking at this 2007 interview with Barghouti just as I posted to Twitter (sorry, cannot yet write “tweeted” with a straight face) about the forthcoming translation. In it, Barghouti speaks (in English) about the significance of poetry. According to Felipe, the interviewer asks:

“Considering the dark ages in which we live today and the growth of people’s skepticism, don’t you fear that poetry – with all its magnitude and power – might face a decrease of its power?”

Poetry is powerful, Barghouti tells the interviewer.

“But I refuse to put it in another pattern that is not its own.” …  “If you feel that your poem is an army, you will defeat no enemy.

“For instance, our land is occupied. If poems could liberate one village, then we could have liberated five continents with our [poems]….” (Watch the interview.)

1 Comment

  1. Speaking of the Barghoutis, there will be a poetry night with Tamim on June 30 in the journalist’s syndicate building at 8 pm.

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