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My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet's Life in the Palestinian Centuryby Adina Hoffman
"As Ali's poems examine particulars of people, place, and moment to illuminate something broader, universal, so Hoffman's book succeeds by balancing the work of clearly narrating a tangled history, with all its contestation, trauma, and sprawl, and offering an intimate portrait of one individual, with all his idiosyncrasies, charm, humor, and verve." Spencer Drew, Rain Taxi (Read the entire Rain Taxi review)
Synopses & Reviews
Beautifully written, and composed with a novelist's eye for detail, this book tells the story of an exceptional man and the culture from which he emerged. Taha Muhammad Ali was born in 1931 in the Galilee village of Saffuriyya and was forced to flee during the war in 1948. He traveled on foot to Lebanon and returned a year later to find his village destroyed.
An autodidact, he has since run a souvenir shop in Nazareth, at the same time evolving into what National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Eliot Weinberger has dubbed perhaps the most accessible and delightful poet alive today. As it places Muhammad Ali's life in the context of the lives of his predecessors and peers, My Happiness offers a sweeping depiction of a charged and fateful epoch. It is a work that Arabic scholar Michael Sells describes as among the five 'must read' books on the Israel-Palestine tragedy.
In an era when talk of the Clash of Civilizations dominates, this biography offers something else entirely: a view of the people and culture of the Middle East that is rich, nuanced, and, above all else, deeply human.
"From Adina Hoffman's extraordinary book, I have not only learned about the life of that wise, sweet, cunning, superbly gifted and totally original Palestinian poet, Taha Muhammad Ali, but I have learned — more than ever before & mdash; about Jewish and Arab history in Palestine. The book is heartbreaking, riveting, and beautifully written. Moreover its one of a kind, courageous, and deeply honest." Gerald Stern, National Book Award-winner for This Time: New and Selected Poems
About the Author
Adina Hoffman is the author of House of Windows: Portraits from a Jerusalem Neighborhood. Her essays and criticism have appeared in the Nation, the Washington Post, and the Times Literary Supplement and on the BBC. One of the founders and editors of Ibis Editions, she lives in Jerusalem.
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