Five books on Palestine to read during the coronavirus lockdown

Five books on Palestine to read during the coronavirus lockdown
5 min read
29 April, 2020
Book Club: From history, culture, to food, fiction and beyond, here are five brilliant books on the theme of Palestine to discover while on lockdown

Get cosy, make some tea and pick up a book about beautiful Palestine [Getty]
With coronavirus lockdown being imposed on almost every country in the world, the majority of us may have a lot of spare time on our hands.

Whether you're a Palestinian who wants to connect with their roots, or simply someone seeking to learn more about the nation of Palestine, one of the few remaining victims of settler colonialism in the 21st century, a wealth of literature offers rewarding wisdom and knowledge for the hungry reader

From history, to culture, to food, fiction and beyond, Palestine inspires many, we have selected five brilliant books on Palestine that you can get stuck into over the next few weeks:

1. Imperial Perceptions: British influence and power in late Ottoman times by Lorenzo Kamal

This book is gives a historical account of the way Palestine was perceived by imperial powers. It pays specific attention to European powers during the decline of the Ottoman Empire of which Palestine was once part, and how their perception led to the rise of Israel.

The book also looks at how both European and Arab powers at the time viewed Palestinians and explores the way their Arab and Palestinian identity was perceived throughout the period.

The book includes little known revelations, quoting Chaim Weizmann, President of the Zionist Organisation then the first president of Israel, claiming that Faisal, son of the Sharif of Mecca Hussein Ibn Ali Al-Hashim was “contemptuous of the Palestinian Arabs whom he doesn’t even regard as Arabs.” Faisal would become the king of Iraq. His brother was the first king of modern-day Jordan.

2. Gaza: A History by Jean-Pierre Filiu

Jean Pierre Filiu, gives an in-depth account of Gaza’s ancient history and explains how its strategic location has made it vulnerable to foreign occupation.

Dating his account of Gaza from as far back as 1500 BC, when Gaza was under occupation by Egypt’s Pharaohs, Filiu explores the way the ports of Gaza allowed residents to experience prosperity, but also death, destruction and war.

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In the latter parts of the book, he looks at Gaza through the current lens of Palestinian and Arab nationalism and the Islamification of what is now a besieged enclave ruled by Hamas.

3. Being Palestinian: Personal Reflections on Palestinian Identity in the Diaspora by Yasir Suleiman

A must read for any Palestinian. This book asks Palestinians in the diaspora from across the globe to explore their identity and how they relate to Palestine.

The book explores the richness of Palestine’s culture, but it looks at the way the diaspora relate to the land and belong to a culture that they, and in some cases the generations of their families before them, have been estranged from.

Some stories are informative and shed light on parts of Palestinian culture that have been forgotten. This book takes the reader on an intellectual journey but can be an emotional rollercoaster at the same time and brings Palestine home through the eyes of others.

4. Palestine + 100 Edited by Basma Ghalayini

A rare crossover, Palestine + 100 is a sci-fi book with a compilation of short stories written by a number of Palestinian authors.

The contributing writers were given a blank canvas to explore this one question: What would your homeland look like 100 years after the Nakba (the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the war that created Israel)? 

Review: Palestine +100: Stories from a century after the Nakba

The writers use a blend of their imagination and predictions on development of technology to give a picture on what Palestine would be like in the year 2048.

Each story looks at topics of society, culture, religion and living under occupation. Will Palestine be free? Will it be fully annexed? If still under occupation, how will the occupying power’s relationship with the occupied people change? Will technology free, or oppress Palestinians?

The stories are diverse, well written and thought provoking. Each tale communicates the author’s own relationship with Palestine and their identity at large.

5. Zaitoun: Recipes and Stories from the Palestinian Kitchen by Yasmin Khan

Most of us are stuck at home. Going to restaurants with friends to try new food has become a thing of the past for much of us across the world and eating the same recipes every single day can be tedious.

Yasmin Khan recently travelled across Palestine to find stories and recipes from Palestinians and compiled them into a cookbook. But what’s unique about this cookbook is that it delves into the culinary culture of Palestine and how Palestinians relate to it, whilst providing readers with amazing recipes to try at home.

For Palestinians, especially those in the diaspora, food is a huge part of culture and sustaining their heritage is often done in the kitchen with recipes passed down. Even if you’re Palestinian and have recipes from teta (grandma) under your sleeve, this book is a must have if you love reading about the journey of food as well as enjoying it on your plate.

Diana Alghoul is a journalist at The New Arab.

Follow her on Twitter: @SuperKnafeh and Instagram: @flowerknafeh

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff

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