Recommended Read: ‘Palestine as Metaphor’

"I don't like to resemble these taxi drivers to whom passing journalists glean their quick impressions about the country they are visiting."

5 Must-read Memoirs (and Not-quite-memoirs)

Assembly Journal, for their "five books" series, asked me to come up with a list of five Arabic books. The field was too dizzyingly wide. Even when I narrowed my topic to "memoirs and not-quite-memoirs," it was a difficult winnowing process: What about Galal Amin's Nectar of the Years? Well, it hasn't been translated into English, so that's that, I suppose. Sayyid Qutb or Huda Shaarawi's memoirs, for their historical and political importance? Taha Hussein's classic The Days? (But hasn't everyone already read The Days?)

One-minute Review: Mahmoud Darwish’s /Journal of an Ordinary Grief/

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.