Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.
Men In The Sun And Other Palestinian Stories [Amazon | Book Depository]
Written by Ghassan Kanafani
Published by Lynne Rienner Publishers (1998, first published 1963)
ISBN: 0894108573 (ISBN13: 9780894108570) Bought a copy of the book.
I was forever changed as a human being after I have read Joe Sacco’s Palestine (Amazon | Book Depository) and Footnotes in Gaza (Amazon | Book Depository) a few years back. When my family and I moved here to the United Arab Emirates, one of my resolutions was to read more literature coming from the region written by people who are from the region. Reading Radwa Ashour’s Woman From Tantoura (Amazon | Book Depository) was especially illuminating as she made continued reference to Ghassan Kanafani, a Palestinian author and activist. Naturally, this inspired me to purchase the story that he is most known for, and which I am writing about here.
Kanafani wrote in a matter-of-fact yet also highly intimate manner – like stories that are being whispered around a campfire. Most are horror stories that one would not imagine could happen to another human being – yet these stories are snapshots of actual lived experiences of people, who are still pretty much going through what Kanafani had surfaced here. The Land Of Sad Oranges is perhaps one that really pierced me to the core – with its anguish, cry of despair and hopelessness – but Men In The Sun is the story that has burned itself into my memory. While it is a thin book, 115 pages long, it took me around two weeks to finish it to provide myself a breather in between pages. Once again, this is me as a reader coming from my privileged vantage point of being able to press pause and play on someone else’s lived trauma. While this is a work of fiction, I can deduce that the reality may even be more harrowing than what is portrayed here.
Reading Kanafani also left me with a desire to make meaning out of all this – although I am aware that far more intelligent and well-meaning people have done just that in the past. In his bio, it is noted that “He was killed in a car-bomb explosion in Beirut in 1972.” I will definitely purchase more of his books – and feature them here – if only to bring wider awareness to these silenced voices that rarely make their way into mainstream literature. We do what we can within the spaces we are given.
#ReadIntl2020 Update: 40 (out of target 30) – Ghassan Kanafani was from Palestine.