Gate of the Sunby Elias Khoury
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.
“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.)
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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.
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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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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.
The story just dragged on, back flashed several times, and was over without closure.
Waste of my time