Synopses & Reviews
A heart-wrenching, powerfully written novel that could do for Palestine what The Kite Runner did for Afghanistan.
Forcibly removed from the ancient village of Ein Hod by the newly formed state of Israel in 1948, the Abulhejas are moved into the Jenin refugee camp. There, exiled from his beloved olive groves, the family patriarch languishes of a broken heart, his eldest son fathers a family and falls victim to an Israeli bullet, and his grandchildren struggle against tragedy toward freedom, peace, and home. This is the Palestinian story, told as never before, through four generations of a single family.
The very precariousness of existence in the camps quickens life itself. Amal, the patriarch's bright granddaughter, feels this with certainty when she discovers the joys of young friendship and first love and especially when she loses her adored father, who read to her daily as a young girl in the quiet of the early dawn. Through Amal we get the stories of her twin brothers, one who is kidnapped by an Israeli soldier and raised Jewish; the other who sacrifices everything for the Palestinian cause. Amals own dramatic story threads between the major Palestinian-Israeli clashes of three decades; it is one of love and loss, of childhood, marriage, and parenthood, and finally of the need to share her history with her daughter, to preserve the greatest love she has.
Previously published in a hardcover edition with a limited run under the title The Scar of David, this powerful novel is now available in a fully revised, newly titled paperback edition. The deep and moving humanity of Mornings in Jenin forces us to take a fresh look at one of the defining political conflicts of our lifetimes.
“In these lean times for the book industry, a second chance for a work of literary fiction is beyond fantastical—akin to seeing the Mona Lisa twitch. To resort to a quaint phrase from publishing days of yore, someone at Bloomsbury obviously believed in this book, and, politics aside for a moment, it's easy to see why. Abulhawa is a passionate writer whose limber, poetic style transports a reader deep inside the war-torn world she chronicles…. Melodramatic? Certainly. Polemical? Absolutely. But, Mornings in Jenin is also a terrifically affecting novel, thanks to Abulhawa's elegance as a writer. It's a novel to savor.”—Maureen Corrigan, The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Abulhawa has created a compassionate, ground-level view of a Palestinian family caught in the heart-wrenching realities of life in the Middle East.”—Dianna Marder, The Philadelphia Inquirer
“In the acknowledgments to her novel Mornings in Jenin (Bloomsbury, February), Susan Abulhawa recalls being inspired by Edward Saids lament “that the Palestinian narrative was lacking in literature.” Published as Scars of David in 2006, Abulhawas newly re-edited novel fills that gap, chronicling the development of the Jewish state and its consequences for local Arabs from a decidedly Palestinian perspective.”—Tablet: A New Read on Jewish Life
“In this richly detailed, beautiful and resonant novel examining the Palestinian and Jewish conflicts from the mid-20th century to 2002 … Abulhawa gives the terrible conflict a human face … [and] makes a great effort to empathize with all sides and tells an affecting and important story that succeeds as both literature and social commentary.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Audacious, no-holds-barred account of a Palestinian familys suffering during 60 years of Israeli occupation … A potent debut.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Abulhawas debut novel is a powerful portrayal of what might be labeled the “other side” of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the viewpoint of Palestinian refugees uprooted in 1948…. An intimate look at the refugee existence by a daughter of refugees.”—Booklist
“Mornings in Jenin is a powerful and passionate insight into what many Palestinians have had to endure since the state of Israel was created. Susan Abulhawa guides us through traumatic events with anger and great tenderness too, creating unforgettable images of a world in which humanity and inhumanity, selflessness and selfishness, love and hate grow so close to each other.”—Michael Palin
“Mornings in Jenin is a powerful and sensitive narrative that encapsulates the Palestinian experience with searing honesty and moving compassion. Susan Abulhawa displays linguistic and imaginative skills that single her out as a literary figure with tremendous promise… In both its specific Palestinian content and its larger human dimension, this novel is at once a challenge to complacency and ignorance as well as an affirmation of all that is enduring and valuable in the undefeated human spirit.”—Hanan Ashrawi, founder and Secretary General of the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH), and author of This Side of Peace: A Personal Account
“A powerful and heartbreaking book.”—Esther Freud
“The voice of Susan Abulhawa is honest, every word is heartfelt, the aim to honour history and acknowledge its facts. This book is a ‘tour waiting to take with it all kinds of readers: the already converted, the uninformed, and especially those who are fortunate enough to live secure lives.”—Hanan al-Shaykh
“I finished Susan Abulhawas novel last night. As I came to the end I could hardly bear to read it. But I did and I loved it ... what shes done is that great Jane Eyre thing: here is my life, here is a life, from the very beginning to its very end; here is her family and her heart, her people and her land. You travel with her on every page.”—Carmen Callil
“I love Mornings in Jenin … It really is a great work—the epic novel the Palestinian tragedy has been waiting for.”— Robin Yassin-Kassab
Mornings in Jenin is a multi-generational story about a Palestinian family. Forcibly removed from the olive-farming village of Ein Hod by the newly formed state of Israel in 1948, the Abulhejos are displaced to live in canvas tents in the Jenin refugee camp. We follow the Abulhejo family as they live through a half century of violent history. Amidst the loss and fear, hatred and pain, as their tents are replaced by more forebodingly permanent cinderblock huts, there is always the waiting, waiting to return to a lost home.
The novel's voice is that of Amal, the granddaughter of the old village patriarch, a bright, sensitive girl who makes it out of the camps, only to return years later, to marry and bear a child. Through her eyes, with her evolving vision, we get the story of her brothers, one who is kidnapped to be raised Jewish, one who will end with bombs strapped to his middle. But of the many interwoven stories, stretching backward and forward in time, none is more important than Amal's own. Her story is one of love and loss, of childhood and marriage and parenthood, and finally the need to share her history with her daughter, to preserve the greatest love she has.
Set against one of the twentieth century's most intractable political conflicts, Mornings in Jenin is a deeply human novel - a novel of history, identity, friendship, love, terrorism, surrender, courage, and hope. Its power forces us to take a fresh look at one of the defining conflicts of our lifetimes.
A heart-wrenching, powerfully written novel, "Mornings in Jenin" tells of the Abulhega family, who is forced from the ancient village of Ein Hod into a refugee camp by the newly formed state of Israel in 1948.
About the Author
Susan Abulhawa was born to refugees of the Six Day War of 1967, and moved to the United States as a teenager. She is the founder of Playgrounds for Palestine, an NGO that builds playgrounds for Palestinian children in the occupied territories and refugee camps elsewhere. Abulhawa has contributed essays to the New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, and Philadelphia Inquirer, among other publications. Mornings in Jenin marks her first major publication as a novelist.