This is an account of Palestinian Fawaz Turki's personal and political odyssey, from his family's expulsion from Israel in 1949 to incidents of his visit - after a 40-year absence - to the Israeli-occupied West Bank. What he finds there proves to be a pattern of complexity beyond his expectations.
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An absorbing, provocative memoir by an unorthodox Palestinian poet and essayist. Fawaz Turki (Soul in Exile, 1988, etc.) was born in Haifa and raised after 1948, when he was eight, in the refugee camps of Beirut. His exile took him to places as diverse as Melbourne, Singapore, and Washington, DC. In the early '90s he returned to his ``homeground'' after a 40-year absence. Turki skillfully weaves scenes of his own tumultuous past with impressions of his people's past and present plight, and he is unsparing in his criticism of Palestinian values and society, which he perceives as stifling and authoritarian. Haunted by the poisoning of his teenage sister to preserve family honor (she had engaged in premarital sex), Turki rails against the constrictions placed on women in the Muslim world. He deems the PLO leadership inept and corrupt and says that the ``kids who represent Hamas are notoriously vicious. They rule through intimidation, brutality and murder.'' Though he has little tolerance for the anti-Jewish bigotry endemic to the Arab world-- and was married to a Jewish woman in the US--Turki paints a disturbing picture of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. ``There is not a single Palestinian who does not know someone who has been imprisoned, deported, shot or had his land expropriated, his village placed under collective punishment, his freedom to travel, study, [or] build a house, denied.'' For all his empathy, Turki has freed himself from the chains of nationalism and religion--but his personal life reveals periodic subservience to destructive bouts of cocaine, alcohol, and womanizing. Feeling more at home in the West than in the Middle East, this pained free spirit has no desire to go home, but his soul is genuinely touched by the likely emergence of a Palestinian state. This compelling memoir reveals much about a particular expatriate and the people he has left behind. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Library Journal:
One of the four million stateless Palestinians driven out by the Israelis, Turki grew up in the tough refugee camps of Beirut, finally marrying an American, which took him to the United States. Now a recovering addict and alcoholic, he returns to his roots after a 40-year exile and finds that he is transformed, belonging to neither culture and to both. There is tension between those who left and those who stayed. While minimizing his own plight with expressions of concern for those who remain in what was formerly Palestine, Turki also finds them culturally backward and entrapped in the misery of their lives. Once a PLO fighter, he now disparages the PLO. Turki writes well, and the book has merit. But less repetition of passages about his world travels and hippie days, taken from his previous book (Soul in Exile, LJ 4/15/88), and more information on the Palestinian aspect of his journey to the frontiers of his soul would have helped. For large collections.
Louise Leonard, Univ. of Florida Libs., Gainesville
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