Being Palestinian: Personal Reflections on Palestinian Identity in the Diaspora (Edinburgh University Press, 2016), edited by Yasir Suleiman, contains more than 100 contributions of prose and poetry by men and women spanning several generations, most of whom live in exile in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Contributor Sharif S. Elmusa will read selected excerpts at The Jerusalem Fund2425 Virginia Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20037, on March 23, 2016, 12:30 to 2 p.m.
Elmusa situates the book in the context of a Palestinian literary genre, the “autobiographical reflection.” He will discuss the multiple ways in which being or becoming Palestinian is conceptualized and felt in the book’s reflections “from the heart,” and how such a state and process coexist with a second national identity for the largely multicultural group of authors. Elmusa is the author of Flawed Landscape: Poems 1987-2008 (Interlink Pub Group Inc., 2008) and co-editor of the anthology Grape Leaves: A Centuryof Arab-American Poetry (Interlink Publishing Group, 1999).
Professor Suleiman explains that these writers are in diaspora “not out of choice but because of bitter necessity. As exiles, they dream of returning home one day or having their home back, but they are not allowed to exercise this right of return.”
One contributor writes, “Being Palestinian, I learnt from a young age, means being hammered on an anvil … [It] is waking up to displacement, lunching with diaspora and going to bed with dispossession.”Palestine lives in everyday existence, present in its absence, and has a lack of political closure. Exploring how such an existence affects those in exile are notable writers including:
Naomi Shihab Nye, "Written on his Forehead: My Father"
Salma Khadra Jayyusi, “The Durable Cords of Memory”
Ghada Karm, “Fitting Nowhere”
Ibtisam Barakat, “Forty Days of Mourning”
Fadi Joudah, “Still life”
Abdel Bari Atwan, “Forever Gazan”