Gate of the Sun

( 6 )

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 ...
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Gate of the Sun

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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.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
List Muse's Top 100 Novels of All Time, #68

Because the world is the way it is, because whole groups of people can be maligned, neglected, ignored, for too many years, we need the voice of Elias Khoury—detailed, exquisite, humane—more than ever. Read him. Without fail, read him. —Naomi Shihab

Nye Elias Khoury . . . is an artist giving voice to rooted exiles and trapped refugees, to dissolving boundaries and changing identities, to radical demands and new languages. From this perspective Khoury’s work bids Mahfouz an inevitable and yet profoundly respectful farewell. —Edward Said

There has been powerful fiction about Palestinians and by Palestinians, but few have held to the light the myths, tales and rumors of both Israel and the Arabs with such discerning compassion. In Humphrey Davies' sparely poetic translation, Gate of the Sunis an imposingly rich and realistic novel, a genuine masterwork. —New York Times Book Review

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 (UK)

Samir El-Youssef
But peace is not any nearer. After watching PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shake hands in the famous 1993 White House ceremony, Khalil, unlike the people around him, finds it difficult to conceal his joy: He thinks he's witnessing the end to a long and muddy conflict. But the novel heralds no new beginning and very little hope, and the circular narrative out of which Khalil tries to find his way makes us feel that the characters' deaths will keep recurring. That's bad news for those of us still hoping to see peace prevail in the region, but good material for Khoury, whose bleak sense of history feeds this powerful novel.
— The Washington Post
Lorraine Adams
There has been powerful fiction about Palestinians and by Palestinians, but few have held to the light the myths, tales and rumors of both Israel and the Arabs with such discerning compassion. In Humphrey Davies's sparely poetic translation, Gate of the Sun is an imposingly rich and realistic novel, a genuine masterwork.
— The New York Times
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780976395027
  • Publisher: Steerforth Press
  • Publication date: 1/3/2006
  • Pages: 539
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

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.

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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.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2006

    Gate of the Sun: a touching narrative, indeed

    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.

    18 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2012

    Bizzarre!

    The story just dragged on, back flashed several times, and was over without closure.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 17, 2012

    yuck

    very boring

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2012

    Could not finish

    Waste of my time

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews

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