Poet and essayist Fawaz Turki begins his search for answers in the hallways of the 1983 Palestine National Council meeting in Algiers. He then recalls his family's flight into Lebanon when he was eight, childhood in a refugee camp and the streets of Beirut, and years spent in Australia, France, and the United States in search of his identity, both personal and national. In describing this journey, Fawaz Turki also relates the stories of family, friends, and comrades, those who fought the battles and those who ...
Poet and essayist Fawaz Turki begins his search for answers in the hallways of the 1983 Palestine National Council meeting in Algiers. He then recalls his family's flight into Lebanon when he was eight, childhood in a refugee camp and the streets of Beirut, and years spent in Australia, France, and the United States in search of his identity, both personal and national. In describing this journey, Fawaz Turki also relates the stories of family, friends, and comrades, those who fought the battles and those who walked away from them. Together, these episodes comprise a panoramic history of a generation formed in exile, of a homeless people caught in the violent storm of Middle East politics.
Palestinian activist Turki has written a sequel to his 1972 memoir, The Disinherited: Journal of a Palestinian Exile, but unlike that work, this slim volume fails to convey the anguish of the refugee or the reasoned analysis of the committed revolutionary. With the 1983 Palestine National Congress in Algiers as its departure point, the book relates, in a series of flashbacks, Turki's childhood and adolescence in Beirut and his early adulthood as an expatriate in Australia. Moving to Paris six years later, he becomes involved in the Palestinian cause and, after the publication of his first book, moves to the U.S. in 1973. As a publicist and organizer for the cause, he is close to the movement's leadership and provides some insights into its strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, this chronicle is marred by an insistent style bordering on agitprop, an outdated counterculture vocabulary, and an indulgence in four-letter expletives to emphasize disdain for another's point of view. Even the highly evocative reminiscences of childhood are spoiled by awkward prose (``Except for him we were all now going to school, but we had learned by this time how to swing our proud Palestinian egos around''), while descriptions of Palestinian leadership are particularly shallow (``Arafat has an intuitive, aboriginal grasp of the Palestinian psyche''). (April)
In the eighth year of his life, Turki's home (bricks, land, map location, national identity) was taken from him forever. He is a Palestinian and Exile is his autobiography. His life's tale, however, evokes the rage and frustration of a people bereft of identity (legal and social) and gives us a clear window on the philosophies and emotions that motivate the Palestinian. Turki is a poet: his prose is lyrical without detracting from his essential questions of ``why us alone?'' and ``when will we have an identity again?'' For Turki, the world has many enemies, few friends, and fewer who understand his (and his people's) aloneness. Grossman, too, is a wordsmith, and Wind is his examination of the obverse of Turki's life. Asked to write an article commemorating the 20th anniversary of the West Bank's occupation, the Israeli journalist/novelist caused a furor with this telegraphic and insightful study of the symbiotic relationship between Arabs and Jews in Israel. His scrutiny of the daily interaction between Israeli occupier and Palestinian clearly establishes that neither's dilemma can be resolved separately. Grossman's quick and economical brushstrokes evoke the real pain of modern Israel and how at present there are only victims on both sides. BOMC selection. Both works are very well done and are highly recommended. Taking them together, readers just might begin to understand the personal element in the Middle East. David P. Snider, Casa Grande P.L., Ariz.