Ghassan Zaqtan: وصف الماضيالمرآة (Describing the Past)

The latest addition to my website is Ghassan Zaqtan‘s Ghassan Zaqtan: وصف الماضيالمرآة (Describing the Past). This is a wonderful novel of memory and death and sensuality, set primarily in a Palestinian refugee camp. There are three main characters, never named, referred to only as I, he and she, all of whom tell their own stories in the first person, though I is nicknamed Christian and he the Iraqi. As boys, both see and are attracted to the woman, the young wife of an elderly Hadj. After the Hadj’s death, the Iraqi will later marry the woman while Christian moves on. It is his return to the camp, after the death of the Hadj and of the Iraqi, which is recounted by Christian, bringing back memories of the woman, but also of deaths, both casual and brutal, of the Nakba and of his past life. Zaqtan is a poet and he gives us a beautiful though sad poetic novel.

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