Darwish: Journal of an Ordinary Grief

Archipelago Books has just published a book of linked autobiographical essays — first published in Beirut in 1973 — by the great Palestinian poet Mahmood Darwish, titled Journal of an Ordinary Grief, excellently translated from Arabic by Ibrahim Muhawi. What Edward Said wrote about Darwish’s poetry — that it is “an epic effort to transform the lyrics of loss into the indefinitely postponed drama od return” — is just as true as these genre-defying prose narratives. Check details and buy it here. This is a must read, as I suggest in my blurb for the book:

Consider this book an essential ‘primer for the gradual understanding’ of Palestine and its people. This, Darwish’s first — 1973 — collection of prose essays is one of the most effective, useful and deeply moving witnessing of a historical tragedy I have read. The writing has an unsurpassed freshness, power and awe exactly because it is poetry that happens to have justified margins, or, as Darwish puts it: “In the Arabic sentence there is enough room for a continent of tents.”  Remember that the Arab word for ‘tent’ is also the word that means a ‘verse’ or line of poetry. Darwish hungers for understanding why such calamities have befallen his people and has a profound need for sharing — and succeeds brilliantly at both of these. This book should be on the reading list of every school in this country.

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2 Responses

  1. ernie brill says:

    I dont know who you are but I am a long-time admirer of Darwish, and I agree that this is one of his finest, freshest work among a lifetime of astonishing literature. Thank you for helping to promote his work. It is my opinion that had he not been Palestinian, he would have easily won the Nobel Prize in his lifetime. But that’s like saying if the bird didnt have wings it would own the sky.

  1. November 17, 2010

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