Speak, Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales

Speak, Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales

by Ibrahim Muhawi, Sharif Kanaana
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Speak, Bird, Speak Again 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This wonderful book introduces Palestinian culture to the world. In the footsteps of the brothers Grimm, Ibrahim Muhawi and Sharif Kanaana roamed all over Palestine collecting folktales from the old people. The major difference setting this work aside is highly methodical approach of its authors and the depth of their perceptions and analyses. Perhaps this is not surprising given their qualifications ¿ one a leading Palestinian social scientist, the other a leading humanist. The tales were selected based on their popularity as well as their excellence, and so very much represent the culture they come from. The authors themselves exhibit a deep understanding of traditional Palestinian culture, which is transmitted to the reader in the introduction. Each tale is accompanied by a modest set of footnotes where necessary, commenting on linguistic features. Furthermore, every few tales are followed by a commentary section relating the tales to Palestinian culture, and a detailed folkloristic analysis section concludes the book. This gem of a book can thus be read on many levels, from the serious scholar in comparative folktales, to the student of Palestinian studies, to the ordinary parent wishing to read good stories to their kids. The book is structured such that the commentary and analysis sections can be safely skipped. Nevertheless, I found those sections quite fascinating and well-written, using easy to understand language but reflecting deep insight and understanding. The translation is excellent, making the tales sound as ordinary in English as they sound in the original Arabic. I have read other translations of Palestinian folktales (e.g. by Rafael Patai) that attempt a literal translation, and as a result, those translations sound extremely awkward in English and not fun to read. Speak Bird, Speak Again is also infinitely superior to Patai¿s book in its author¿s understanding of Palestinian culture and the colloquial Arabic language used (Patai makes many obvious mistakes in translating common idioms and expressions). Speak Bird Speak Again is therefore highly recommended to anyone with interest in Palestine or simply with a craving for good stories. The collection in this book represents the last versions of tales that are dying out as a result of the deep social and political changes that have affected Palestinian society as a result of Western colonialism.