I Saw Ramallah

Jan 2024

This is the first book review I have ever written, so forgive me. I did my best.

I Saw Ramallah by Mourid Barghouti

Heartbreaking, hopeful, warm and joyful at times and filled with loss. Barghouti’s poetic autobiography is at times hard to follow as it meanders through his memories of Palestine as it was, intertwined with his experience of Palestine as it is, and sundered by feelings of uncertainty, isolation, and tragedy. “O our beautiful martyr!”.

Before reading this book, it is worthwhile to read about some of the pivotal events in the region, especially the catastrophe of ‘48 and the 6-day war of ‘67. Barghouti describes his thoughts and feelings rather than the events themselves, and some contextual understanding is necessary.

At times in this book I was overwhelmed by the transition from past to present, as well as the seemingly hundreds of names that filled Barghouti’s life and mind. However my overall impression is that it did not distract from the experience of reading his story and perhaps is an important part of it.

The Palestinian longing for a place and a life that they will never again have or experience, especially after recent events, comes through strongly in this book. It is a must read.

On her last day
Death sat in her arms.
She was tender to him and pampered him
And told him a story,
And they fell asleep together.

Link to this review on Goodreads

The book cover