In Mahmoud Darwish’s Journal of an Ordinary Grief–published in 1973 as Yawmiyyat al-Huzn al-‘Adi and now available in English translation–the narrator shapes his personal, Palestinian memories against the insistent push of Israeli and Western-dominated history. The book thus presents itself not as an official record, but as a collection of individual wounds.
Although Darwish is best-known for his verse, Journal of an Ordinary Grief was the first of three major prose works. His second was Dhakira lil-Nisyan (Memory for Forgetfulness), published in 1985, and the third, Fi Hadrat al-Ghiyab (In the Presence of Absence), appeared just two years before the poet’s death in 2008. Journal is probably the most autobiographical of the three, telling fragments of Darwish’s life story, beginning with his earliest, pre-1948 childhood and ending with his exile.
Keep reading…in Al Masry Al Youm.