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Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa

Mornings in Jenin (2006)

by Susan Abulhawa

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English (49)  German (2)  Swedish (2)  Italian (2)  Norwegian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (57)
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
When about 10, became obsessed with reading everything about the Holocaust. Those books -- totally unsuitable for a child --strongly impressed me with the irrationality of anti-Semitism and the need of Jews to protect themselves from a future recurrence. Because of my profession and locations (currently Upper West Side of NYC), I've continued to be exposed primarily to the pro-Israeli, somewhat paranoid perspective of Jews for whom the Holocaust is never out of mind.

This book was the first of what are probably hundreds, if not thousands, of novels written entirely from the Palestinian point of view. Four generations of women's lives are described from 1948 on. Altho I've (of course) known that many people were displaced, this novel describes the situation in a fresh light. As a Jewish friend said, the basic question is whether you believe that Israel must continue to exist. For Jews, the answer is yes and everything flows from that. This book shows part of that "everything."

I was undoubtedly overimpressed by this book because of my personal background. Nonetheless, in a country known as a stalwart friend of Israel, I wonder how many others would benefit from reading even this obviously strongly biased account. ( )
  abycats | May 11, 2018 |
I’m exhausted…and heartbroken…and impressed, stunned, wrung out, confused, embarrassed, pensive. Did I mention exhausted? What an emotional roller coaster this reading has been.

I remember sitting in a classroom in the mid-1970s and asking my history teacher why Americans automatically assume Israel's actions are always morally just and anyone who pushes back at them is always wrong. Of course I didn’t get an answer beyond a mumbled, simplistic reference to the “long history”(?) of Israeli-American alliances and the Nazi Holocaust, as if that explained everything that came before and after in the Middle East. In all fairness, I realize now that he probably didn’t have an answer. He’d probably never before considered the question. The problems in the Middle East are complicated with intricate, convoluted, illogical history and emotions pulling at it from all sides. The truth isn’t even somewhere in the middle; it’s fled the scene completely.

What we forget is that underneath all the headlines and political manipulations, under all the bloated posturing about allies and rights and retribution and, yes, religious differences, this conflict is made up of individuals. The strength of this book is that it finds the human beings amidst inhuman horrors and shows us how the human beings are unbelievably fragile and incomprehensibly resilient. What Susan Abulhawa does here is reach past all the things we think we know to tell a story about what most of us don’t know: surviving as a displaced person, a refugee, a pawn in a seemingly endless cycle of retaliations.

It’s not lost on me that the author employs stylistic choices that usually annoy me, my personal pet peeve of present tense being the most obvious one.

You know what? I don’t care. I'm fine with it.

In the few places present tense was used, present tense did what present tense is supposed to do in a narrative: it added a feeling of intimacy and urgency, a kind of “I’m looking over this person’s shoulder at this galvanizing moment” feeling. And, for this story, I honestly don’t think sticking to one character’s POV or rigidity in tense choice would have worked nearly as well. The author used it as a tool, not a crutch, and it added to the storytelling.

I understand the author has a new book out. If it is as powerful as Mornings in Jenin, I’m almost afraid to read it until I can recover what's left of my cavalier American naivete from the emotional beat-down it just took.

Oh, who am I kidding? The minute it comes out in Kindle, I’m on it.

( )
  Yaaresse | Apr 24, 2018 |
I try to limit the number of these sorts of books I read in year, because they are so depressing. As someone who is neither Jewish nor Palestinian, I am not personally connected to the 'conflict in Israel' tha has been going on since long before I was born. I know enough about it, though, that this novel was not a history lesson for me, more a reminder of the ugliness that humans can create for each other. I have Jewish and Palestinian friends, and have learned to remain respectfully silent about the violence and cruelty both sides continue to show each other in Israel. I can't stop the hatred and evil between these peoples, no matter how much I dwell on it, so I make sure I tune in every so often to what is happening in that part of the planet, and then go on with my own life as best I can.
Books like this one bring the evils of humanity back into focus. In this story, we follow a Palestinian family from a pre-1940's peaceful village that grew olives, through the atrocities of WW2 and the 'birth' of Israel, to the still-ongoing simmer of evil perpetuated by both sides. Since this book follows a Palestinian family, we see mostly the evils visited on Palestinians by Israelis (a side that the American government has long been eager to suppress from American awareness). But from the stories American media does cover about the evils Palestinians visit on Israelis, I knew all the while I was reading this book that there are always more evils going on just off screen. The 'good guys', those non-combatant civilians who just want to live in safety and some sort of comfort, become the victims of both sides, and so long as Israel exists and has not yet completed its implied genocide of the Palestinian people, the violence seems like it must go on forever.
Do I recommend this book? Of course. Israel is not the only place on Earth where we have created a perpetual cycle of evil, but it is a very important one because it is so visible and contained, and maybe if we ever figure out how to achieve lasting peace in Israel, we can apply what we learn to other places and 'conflicts'. But this is not a book to inspire hope for a better future. Reading this story may result in temporary dislike of humans, for the fact that the people who are doing the evil in this book are not monsters, but normal, nice people, not much different from everyone you yourself know and trust. Working out the nature of the evil in Israel and Chechnya and Sudan and everywhere else it has taken root is going to require really looking at it and recognizing that none of us are immune to it, and if we are not perpetuating the evil, there may be a time when we get to become its victims instead. (And yes, for the rest of the year I'll be reading happier or less realistic books and recovering some capacity to like humans again.) ( )
  JBarringer | Dec 30, 2017 |
The story of the Palestinians over the last 70 years is one that needs to be told, but to date largely has not been in the West. The novel is a good form for communicating facets of this story, but I cannot say that this is a good novel. One review calls it a "middle Eastern Catherine Cookson" and the description has a certain aptness in its overdriven sentimentality. Other readers point out its one-sidedness but I have less time for that criticism - surely the purpose of a Palestinian novel is to tell the story as Palestinians see it and feel it? What I find less easy to accept is the way the story line follows so closely the headlines and is so unquestioning in its one-eyed approach that it risks becoming a political polemic.
In spite of these flaws, it is a powerful and worthwhile novel. It captures the suffering and hopelessnesss of a stateless people whose very existence is barely tolerated, whose every attempt to improve their lot results in them being once more ground down, their faces rubbed in the dust. And it captures, indirectly for the most part, the awful historical irony of the actions of the Israeli state and people. 8 September 2017 ( )
  alanca | Sep 12, 2017 |
This is a tough one. The writing is just dreadful - it's so overwrought. But the story will get under your skin and its one that has to be told - even this way with all the plot coincidences and heady language. Maybe if it were less angry, it would be a better book. But then again, maybe that's not the point.

If I had read this twenty-five years ago, it would have rocked my world.
  laurenbufferd | Nov 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
The everyday life of cramped conditions, poverty, restriction, and the fear of soldiers, guns, checkpoints and beatings, would have been enough to make the novel unforgettable, but Abulhawa's writing also shines, at best assured and unsentimental.
Mornings in Jenin (Susan Abulhawa)
This book is the story of Amal Abulheja and her family spanning 54 years. It starts in 1948 when the family is removed from their home in Ein Hod and forced to live as refugees in Jenin. It is a tragic tale of war and loss, yet is also a story of family bonding, love and dedication.

Amal goes through war and conflict between Palestine (Muslims) and Israel (Jewish). She is a strong proud woman, with tragedy following her. The vivid detail of war and terror is heart felt and grabbed me by the heart. It is difficult for one to imagine to live as refuges, with curfews and fear, bombs gunfire and death. The graphic detail of the treatment of the refuges, especially the children was heart wrenching. All the lives lost is saddening. This story left an impression. One that makes me want peace within the world, more than ever before. How this will happen, I have no clue.

I admit I know little of the conflict between Palestine & Israel and I suppose most of the world does not understand, nor know as well. (I could be wrong, but it is my opinion). I found this an unforgettable read. I highly recommend Mornings In Jenin and would love to read more by Ms. Abulhawa.
added by SheriAWilkinson | editPrinceton, Il., Sheri A Wilkinson (Dec 13, 1901)
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For Natalie, and for Seif
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Amal wanted a closer look into the soldier's eyes, but the muzzle of his automatic rifle, pressed against her forehead, would not allow it.
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Mornings in Jenin was also published as The Scar of David.
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Book description
Four generations of a Palestinian family struggle to survive during more than sixty years of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, finding themselves on both sides of the fighting.
Við stofnun Ísraelsríkis 1948 er palestínsk fjölskylda hrakin úr þorpinu þar sem ættin hefur búið öldum saman og í kjölfarið finnur hún sér hæli í flóttamannabúðunum í Jenín. Á leiðinni hverfur eitt barnanna, ungur drengur sem elst upp í gyðingdómi, en bróðir hans fórnar öllu fyrir málstað Palestínumanna. Systirin Amal flyst til Bandaríkjanna en snýr aftur og kynnist ást, missi og hefndarþorsta. Saga fjölskyldunnar er saga palestínsku þjóðarinnar, flóttamanna í sextíu ár – einlæg og mannleg frásögn sem oft hefur verið líkt við Flugdrekahlauparann.Susan Abulhawa er sjálf barn palestínskra flóttamanna en fluttist til Bandaríkjanna á unglingsárum. Bókin, sem bregður nýju ljósi á deilurnar við botn Miðjarðarhafs, hefur þegar vakið mikla athygli og verið gefin út í fjölmörgum löndum.
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Follow Amal's parents as they are driven from their ancestral village by the newly formed state of Israel, as Amal is born in the refugee camp of Jenin, and as they struggle and survive over sixty years of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, carrying them from Jenin to Jerusalem and Lebanon, and to the anonymity of America.

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