Gate of the Sun

Gate of the Sun

2.8 6
by Elias Khoury
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Gate of the Sun is the first magnum opus of the Palestinian saga. After their country is torn apart in 1948, two men remain alone in a deserted makeshift hospital in the Shatila camp on the outskirts of Beirut. We enter a vast world of displacement, fear, and tenuous hope. Khalil holds vigil at the bedside of his patient and spiritual father, a storied leader of the…  See more details below

Overview

Gate of the Sun is the first magnum opus of the Palestinian saga. After their country is torn apart in 1948, two men remain alone in a deserted makeshift hospital in the Shatila camp on the outskirts of Beirut. We enter a vast world of displacement, fear, and tenuous hope. Khalil holds vigil at the bedside of his patient and spiritual father, a storied leader of the Palestinian resistance who has slipped into a coma. As Khalil attempts to revive Yunes, he begins a story, which branches into many. Stories of the people expelled from their villages in Galilee, of the massacres that followed, of the extraordinary inner strength of those who survived, and of love. Khalil—like Elias Khoury—is a truth collector, trying to make sense of the fragments and various versions of stories that have been told to him. His voice is intimate and direct, his memories are vivid, his humanity radiates from every page. Khalil lets his mind wander through time, from village to village, from one astonishing soul to another, and takes us with him. Gate of the Sun is a Palestinian Odyssey. Beautifully weaving together haunting stories of survival and loss, love and devastation, memory and dream, Khoury humanizes the complex Palestinian struggle as he brings to life the story of an entire people.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
First published in 1998 in Arabic by a Beirut publisher, and then translated into Hebrew and French, this book was Le Monde Diplomatique's Book of the Year in 2002; Khoury's ambitious, provocative, and insightful novel now arrives in the U.S. Well researched, deeply imagined, expressively written and overtly nostalgic, the book uses the lyrical flashback style of 1001 Arabian Nights to tell stories of Palestine. At a makeshift hospital in the Shatila refugee camp on the outskirts of Beirut, Dr. Khalil sits by the bed of his gravely ill, unconscious friend and patient, Yunes, a Palestinian fighter, and reminisces about their lives in an attempt to bring him back to consciousness. The collage of stories that emerges, ranging from the war of 1948 to the present, doesn't have a clear beginning or end, but narrows the dizzying scope of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to comprehensible names and faces, including sympathetically tough and pragmatic women. Davies has translated Naguib Mahfouz and does a nice job with the lyrical, outsized text. Khoury, born in 1948 in Beirut, has authored 11 other novels (The Little Mountain and The Kingdom of Strangers are available in translation) and published numerous essays; he now teaches at NYU each spring. A film version of the book was shown in New York in 2004. 9-city author tour. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Absorbing epic of the Palestinian people. Khoury (The Kingdom of Strangers, 1996), born to a Lebanese Christian family, steals a page from the Tales of the Thousand and One Nights, his narrator not a Scheherazade preserving her virtue but a Palestinian doctor who tells winding tales in hope of keeping alive an old friend, comatose in a refugee-camp hospital. The sleeping man, it seems, is meant to represent his people, victims of the Nakba, or "catastrophe," of 1948: as Dr. Khalil observes, with some exasperation, "Why do we, of all the peoples of the world, have to invent our country every day so everything isn't lost and we find we've fallen into eternal sleep?" But Dr. Khalil himself is awake and alive, and very much observant. His stories, one building on the next, become a history and ethnography of the Palestinian people from that year of massacres and flight to the post-1967 loss of even the hope of a homeland and on to the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon: A woman explains that she has a duty to return to her ancestral village so that she can shake the souls of the abandoned dead out of the trees, while another explains the small victory attendant in finding vintage olive oil in the homes of those forced to flee-and no worries, either, for "We don't get high cholesterol. Peasants are cholesterol-proof." Though Khoury's sympathies are evident, he takes a wide and mostly evenhanded view of things political. There are admirable characters of every stripe and tribe, and a few not-so-admirable ones as well, living side by side if not always comfortably; by the close of the book, Dr. Khalil is reporting on the children of the Shatila refugee camp, one of whom "is studying businessmanagement at Tel Aviv University and is getting ready to marry a Christian."Well received internationally-not least in Israel-Khoury's novel reports events little known outside Palestine, woven into an elaborate but effective structure.
From the Publisher

“Few have held to the light the myths, tales, and rumors of both Israel and the Arabs with such discerning compassion . . . Gate of the Sun is an imposingly rich and realistic novel, a genuine masterwork.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Brilliant.” —Edward Said, author of Orientalism

“Humanity and compassion are what give this rich and teeming narrative its shape, creating a work that in its essence is a heartfelt plea for sanity and peace.” —The Christian Science Monitor

“[A] stunning novel . . . A literary masterpiece on par with the work of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz.” —Tikkun

“After Elias Khoury's Gate of the Sun, readers can no longer pretend that Palestine is merely a fugitive state of mind, a convenient Arab myth, a traumatic tribal memory, and somebody else's problem. This remarkable novel out of Lebanon, a skillful reshuffling of the 1001 Nights with a doctor in a refugee camp playing the part of Scheherazade, fills in the blank spaces on the Middle Eastern map in our Western heads.” —John Leonard, Harper's

“The Stories are not propaganda--they are the all too real lives of people yearning for justice or escape; whose plight lies at the heart of so much conflict in the Middle East and beyond. Perhaps only a novelist could tell it this way.” —The Times (London)

“In Gate of the Sun a character dreams of writing a 'book without a beginning or end . . . an epic of the Palestinian people,' based on the stories of every village, and starting from the 'great expulsion of 1948.' Elias Khoury's monumental novel is in a sense that groundbreaking book.” —The Guardian (U.K.)

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780976395027
Publisher:
Steerforth Press
Publication date:
01/03/2006
Pages:
539
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Umm Hassan is dead. I saw everyone racing through the alleys of the camp and heard the sound of weeping. Everyone was spilling out of their houses, bent over to catch their tears, running. Nabilah, Mahmoud al-Qasemi’s wife, our mother, was dead. We called her mother because everyone born in the Shatila camp fell from their mother’s guts into her hands. I too had fallen into her hands, and I too ran the day she died.

Meet the Author

Elias Khoury, born in Beirut, is the author of thirteen novels, four volumes of literary criticism, and three plays. He was awarded the Palestine Prize for Gate of the Sun, which was named Best Book of the Year by Le Monde Diplomatique, The Christian Science Monitor, and The San Francisco Chronicle, and a Notable Book by The New York Times. Khoury’s Yalo, White Masks, Little Mountain, The Journey of Little Gandhi, and City Gates are also available in English. Khoury is a Global Distinguished Professor of Middle Eastern and Arabic Studies at New York University. As Though She Were Sleeping received France’s inaugural Arabic Novel Prize.

Humphrey Davies’ translations include Naguib Mahfouz’s Thebes at War (American University in Cairo Press, Anchor Books) and Alaa al-Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building (AUC Press). He has lived throughout the Middle East and is currently based in Cairo.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Gate of the Sun 2.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read the novel in Arabic first, then in English. Humphrey Davies's translation of the text is superb.Rarely could you tell, if you compare the two texts, that any of the two versions is any better. When I saw the film, I also discovered that the narrative as originally perceived still maintains that amazing touch. Gate of the Sun, viewed as a realistic piece of art, shows more than it really tells. It is a genuine ring in the chain of the Palestinian saga which will unquestionably keep pointing a finger at the injustice so far done to the Palestinian people, both in the Arab World and beyond. Such a narrative would invariably be considered as a historical document added to the living drama of the Palestinians in a world void of mercy and compassion. Elias Khoury has said it all at one beat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story just dragged on, back flashed several times, and was over without closure.
longjohn1 More than 1 year ago
very boring
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Waste of my time