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Out of It: A Novel by Selma Dabbagh
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Out of It: A Novel

by Selma Dabbagh

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Again, I wish for that half star. Very good novel about what passes for normal in a family from Gaza. ( )
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
A strong message.

I'm finding this book very hard to rate - the content was 5 star, but unfortunately the editing let it down. When I frequently find that I am rereading paragraphs to extract their meaning, the flow of the narrative is lost and the book loses its punch. However, this is the author's first full length novel and I'd be interested to read another if she writes a second.

Rashid and Iman are twins, living in Gaza. Rashid copes with the pressures by smoking marijuana and getting stoned, his sister, Iman, finds herself drawn into working with a rebel movement. Their mother is a strong woman with a secret past, while their father has left to live and work in an unnamed Gulf country. They also have an older brother who has lost his wife and child in a bomb blast and now lives in a wheelchair since he also lost his legs in the blast.

The tensions are palpable, with some excellent quotes that give a feel for the stresses of life under bombardment: "There were days when everything needed to be checked. The trees with the sea beyond them were all 'aadi', normal. The cars were 'aadi' too. The tents with his neighbours in were the same as ever.".
And: "Apache. Are we to be killed off in reservations by helicopters named after others killed off in reservations?"

All around them are suspicions, is your neighbour a traitor, who can you trust?
Rashid and Iman both leave for London and the Gulf respectively. Both trips offer further insights into life back home - Iman sits in a cafe in a huge mall, concerned at the amount of glass overhead and the injuries that would result in the event of a bomb. Rashid works on his thesis with a professor who had been in Palestine with the British around 1948.

When both siblings meet up in London along with Rashid's friend Kahaled and a rebel leader, Ziyyad Ayyoubi, who is there to speak at a pro Palestinian demonstration, events start to escalate with dire consequences.

I read this book for a reading group that included one lady of Palestinian origin and an invited guest who visited the area regularly and raised money for a charity providing respite and medical assistance for victims of the atrocities. It was an eye-opening evening.
Although I have read a number of books set in Palestine, each one is slanted in a slightly different direction and informs me more of the situation.

Also read:
Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa (5 stars)
The Kites are Flying by Michael Morpugo (5 stars)
Day After Night by Anita Diamant (4.5 stars)
Miral by Rula Jebreal (4 stars)
The Attack by Yasmina Khadra (4 stars)
When the Bulbul Stopped Singing: A Diary of Ramallah Under Siege by Raja Shehadeh (4 stars)
When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant (3 stars) ( )
  DubaiReader | Jan 15, 2013 |
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Gaza is being bombed. Rashid--an unemployed twenty-seven-year-old, who has stayed up smoking grass and watching it happen--wakes the next day to the news he has been desperate for: He's won a scholarship to study in London. He will leave this place where his mother pickles vegetables and feuds with the neighbors; where his intellectual, wheelchair-bound brother works on a history of their imperiled country. Meanwhile, Rashid's twin sister, Iman, incensed by the atrocities and inaction around her, has also been up all night, in a meeting that proved yet another disappointment. Drawn to another form of resistance, she finds herself being followed by an unknown fighter. Written with extraordinary humanity and humor, and moving between Gaza, London, and the Gulf, Out of It follows the lives of Rashid and Iman as they try to forge paths for themselves in the midst of occupation, religious fundamentalism, and the growing divide between Palestinian factions. It is a novel that captures the frustrations and energies of the modern Arab world, and redefines Palestine and its people.… (more)

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