Raja Shehadeh – Strangers In The House

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£8.99

Strangers in the House is a sad, dignified book. Shehadeh writes with great clarity and simplicity, but no bitterness, more in sorrow than in anger, about the unhappy history of his family and country. The 17 years since his father’s death are covered in just a few pages, but are in some sense present all the time: a constant reminder that all his father Aziz most feared has come to pass.

 

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Three years before Raja Shehadeh was born, his parents left their home in Jaffa for the safety of the Ramallah hills. It was 1947, the British mandate in Palestine was ending, and Arabs feared Israeli attack. They expected to be gone two weeks. They took nothing with them, not even the porcelain tea cups in which his grandmother served tea to her friends.They never went back. The two weeks, as Shehadeh writes, “stretched forever”. By the time he was born, the family had become gareebeh, strangers in landlocked windy Ramallah, on whose heights his father Aziz would stand, looking towards the coast and a past he could not reconcile himself to losing. Jaffa became a suburb of Israeli Tel Aviv.

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