Synopses & Reviews
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.
"First published in 1998 in Arabic by a Beirut publisher, and then translated into Hebrew and French, this book was Le Monde Diplomatique's Book of the Year in 2002; Khoury's ambitious, provocative, and insightful novel now arrives in the U.S. Well researched, deeply imagined, expressively written and overtly nostalgic, the book uses the lyrical flashback style of 1001 Arabian Nights to tell stories of Palestine. At a makeshift hospital in the Shatila refugee camp on the outskirts of Beirut, Dr. Khalil sits by the bed of his gravely ill, unconscious friend and patient, Yunes, a Palestinian fighter, and reminisces about their lives in an attempt to bring him back to consciousness. The collage of stories that emerges, ranging from the war of 1948 to the present, doesn't have a clear beginning or end, but narrows the dizzying scope of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to comprehensible names and faces, including sympathetically tough and pragmatic women. Davies has translated Naguib Mahfouz and does a nice job with the lyrical, outsized text. Khoury, born in 1948 in Beirut, has authored 11 other novels (The Little Mountain and The Kingdom of Strangers are available in translation) and published numerous essays; he now teaches at NYU each spring. A film version of the book was shown in New York in 2004. 9-city author tour. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Gate of the Sun: Bab al-Shams is the first true magnum opus of the Palestinian saga. Through the passing of the beloved midwife and matriarch of the Shatila refugee camp outside Beirut, the reader enters a world of displacement, fear, and tenuous hope. A doctor tells a story to a man in a coma in an attempt to keep him alive. The patient, Yunes, is from Galilee, where he left Nahla, the love of his life. The novel unfolds at his bedside through Dr. Khalil’s intimate and haunting flights of memory.
Khoury humanizes the complex Palestinian/Israeli -struggle for us, shedding light on the turbulent history with love and empathy. Khoury opens up a whole new territory, envisioning a place where confronting pain and humiliation might lead, if not to reconciliation, then at least to finding an element of the other in one’s self. “Us” and “Them” become inextricably entwined through this realigned 1001 Nights. Originally published in Beirut in 1998, the novel has been a sensation throughout the Arab world, in Israel, and throughout Europe.
Deeply human epic of the Palestinian struggle. A realigned "1001 Nights."
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. Khourys 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 Frances inaugural Arabic Novel Prize.
Humphrey Davies translations include Naguib Mahfouzs Thebes at War (American University in Cairo Press, Anchor Books) and Alaa al-Aswanys The Yacoubian Building (AUC Press). He has lived throughout the Middle East and is currently based in Cairo.