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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.
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.70(d)|
About 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.
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
One of the most valuable lessons of my adult life has been realizing that the history we learn in school is just one point of view. As Elias Khoury writes, "I'm scared of history that has only one version. History has dozens of versions, and for it to ossify into one leads only to death." In Gate of the Sun, Khoury tells of Arab - Israeli conflict from a Palestinian perspective. Khalil Ayyoub is a doctor caring for a man named Yunes, his mentor and father figure who has fallen into a coma after a stroke. Although the hospital director has declared Yunes will not recover, Khalil maintains a bedside vigil, talking to Yunes in the desperate hope that this will bring him back. Khalil recounts Yunes' youth prior to the formation of the Israeli state in 1948, the displacement of Palestinians, and Yunes' work as a freedom fighter from that point onwards. Yunes is forced to live apart from his wife, Nahila, and their children, because he will be killed if found. His rendezvous with Nahila take place in a cave near their village, the only place they can spend time together. They lived this way for years, with Nahila bearing several children and raising them on her own.Khalil also tells stories of his own life, including his love for a woman named Shams, who is a sudden victim of the violence surrounding them. Shams' story, and that of their relationship, unfolds gradually throughout the novel. The book proceeds with Khalil sitting by Yunes' bedside weaving tales day after day for nearly seven months. Through these stories we gain an understanding of this period in history as seen by Palestinians; a very different perspective from that of the US government and media.Khoury writes beautiful, descriptive prose: "A woman walking alone through the rubble of her village looking for the stones that were once her house. A woman alone, her head covered with a black scarf, hunched up in that emptiness that stretches all the way to God, among the hills and valleys of Galilee, within the circle of a red sun that crawls over the ground, passing slowly and carrying with it the shadows of all things." Yet I found the stream of consciousness style a bit difficult to follow, and had trouble keeping names, places, and events straight. In the end, I was ready to finish this book so I could get on to my next read.
I read this for a lit class, so it will benefit from me having lower expectations as far as my enjoyment goes (and thus making it easier to impress me by being slightly enjoyable), but suffers from the fact we were made to read it at an ungodly speed that didn't lend itself well to getting used to the writing style or keeping stories and history straight.This novel has some very nice writing and interesting stories. It's good to keep in mind that the novel was originally written in a different language and geared at an audience more familiar with the history of Palestine and the conflict there than many people in the US, so while you can still get a sense of things by simply reading it, if you don't like to feel a little lost, you may want to read up on the subject before starting. There are A LOT of names and stories, but I think it's also important to know that you don't necissarily have to keep track of all of them, many will not appear in important roles more than once. I think these are meant to be more the stories of the people of Palestine than the stories of particular characters.Still, though this book gives a very important and underrepresented view point, the writing style was often difficult to wade through. Constantly changing view points, constant jumps about in time and space, narration styled after a person conversationally recounting stories to another. And then you couple that with the hoards of characters and history I am not all that intimately familiar with. Personally, the first third or half was very difficult as I adjusted to it, so much that I couldn't really take in a lot of the good things about the book as I was so frustrated. I can see the importance the style plays in the book, and it did get easier after the initial half, but that doesn't really make it any more pleasant to get through.I'm positive a lot of my frustration stems from not being as familiar with the location and situation as the target audience, and most importantly the frustratingly small amount of time I was given to read it. I didn't love this book, but I wouldn't actually want to dissuade people who are interested in it from reading it. Instead, I think I'd rather say 'read up on the history if being a little lost irks you like it does me, and read at your own relaxed pace.' It's not something I'd have chosen to read myself, but it has its interesting side if you give yourself time to soak it up.
The story just dragged on, back flashed several times, and was over without closure.
Waste of my time