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The Scar of David by Susan Abulhawa

Contributed by Arab Educational Institute on 08.11.2007:

Susan Abulhawa, author of “The Scar of David,” has won the 2007 award for Historic Fiction in this year’s National Best Book Awards.

A Dutch edition of her book was released with a presale of 10,000 copies.

www.Scar Of

The Scar of David is historical fiction about a Palestinian family from the village of Ein Hod, which was emptied of its inhabitants by the newly formed state of Israel in 1948. It is told in the first person by Amal, who is born into that family in a UN-administered refugee camp in Jenin, where her family would eventually die waiting, or fighting, to return to their beloved Palestine.

Set in lap of one of the 20th century’s most intractable political conflicts, this novel weaves through history, friendship, love, frayed identity, terrorism, exhaustion of the spirit, surrender, and courage. Three massacres and two major wars provide five corners to this novel:

Sabra and Shatila, Southern Lebanon, 1982;

US embassy bombing, Beirut, 1983;

Refugee camp of Jenin, West Bank, 2002;

The Naqbe, Mandate Palestine, 1948; and

The Six Day War, Middle East, 1967.

During the family’s eviction from their ancestral village, Amal’s brother Ishmael is lost in the mayhem of people fleeing for their lives. Just a toddler at the time, Ishmael is raised by a Jewish family and grows up as David, an Israeli soldier. During the 1967 war, Amal’s eldest brother, Yousef, comes face to face with David, his brother the Jew. Yousef recognizes his brother by a prominent scar across David’s face. The title of this story takes its name from this scar, and assumes other layers of meaning as it is told.

The end is the beginning: terrible suffering packaged by Western press into perfidious sound bites like “the Middle East Conflict” and “War on Terrorism.” But through the course of this story, a would-be suicide bomber is given a name, face and life of a man pushed to in comprehensible limits; an Arab girl of pious and humble beginnings escapes her destiny and lives the “American Dream,” which her soul cannot bear; an Israeli man becomes tangled in a truth he cannot reconcile, and his identity can find no repose but in the temporary anesthetic of alcohol; and a nation of destitute refugees, living under the general label of “terrorists,” emerges in the context of an unredeemed history. This story reveals Palestinians in the fullness of their humanity as they teeter on the margins of life against a cruel military occupation, a corrupt leadership, an indifferent international community, and the undaunted will to take their place among the nations as human beings, worthy of human rights and the basic dignity of heritage.


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