|“The obscure heaps on the obscure, rubs against itself, and ignites into clarity.”
This quote epitomizes my experience of this book. Although technically written in prose, this book is a poetic journey through Mahmoud Darwish’s experience as a displaced Palestinian of the 1982 bombardment of Beirut. Darwish is one of the most renowned poets in the Arabic speaking world, and even in prose (and even in English translation) his words and metaphors strike deep.
As the book progresses, the language and metaphors become increasingly edgy and jumbled, leading to a sense of increased confusion and inability to cope with the violence of circumstances. This book is not for the faint of heart (nor for readers who find symbolist poetry especially frustrating). But it is a stunning window into the Palestinian identity and the trauma of war – and even the passages that seem dense with obscurity eventually ignite into an overall sense of clarity.