Review: 'Gaza Weddings' is about finding hope in dark times

“Gaza Weddings” by Ibrahim Nasrallah tells the powerful story of finding hope in the darkest of times.
Updated 07 April 2018
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Review: 'Gaza Weddings' is about finding hope in dark times

  • This novel tells the beautiful yet devastating tale of families living in Gaza
  • Author Ibrahim Nasrallah is a poet, novelist and literary critic
“Gaza Weddings” by Ibrahim Nasrallah is a beautiful yet devastating tale of families living in Gaza. The book is dominated by strong women — neighbors Randa, Lamis and Amna — who manage to keep life moving forward as the occupation crushes both the city and the spirit of its people.
Nasrallah is a poet, novelist and literary critic. He is the author of several collections of poetry, as well as 14 novels. This book was first published in 2004 by the Arab Institute of Research and Publishing as the third part of his Palestinian series, following “Time of the White Horses” and “The Lanterns of the King Galilee.” The book was translated by Nancy Roberts and published at the end of last year by Hoopoe, an imprint of the American University of Cairo Press.
Nearly every male figure in the lives of Nasrallah’s main characters are absent from his book, either on the run, in jail, missing or martyred, as the women dominate the scope of hope and resilience amidst the never-ending bombardment. At the forefront are neighbors Randa, an aspiring journalist, her sister Lamis, and Amna, or Umm Saleh, who looks like Egyptian actress Athar Al-Hakim and works as a supervisor at a rehabilitation center. Their lives are pieced together poetically by Nasrallah as the shattering reality of life under occupation is revealed on every page.
Nasrallah’s book is a long poem, the power of his verse and female characters palpable, as intense as the distress in their lives. The men are physically, mentally and emotionally beat, so the women are the ones who are picking them up and rallying for life.
The heartbreaking stories in Nasrallah’s book are overwhelming — of homes being destroyed, people losing their lives due to clashes with settlers and multiple women mourning at a grave of an unknown victim but assumed loved one. His every word is purposeful, to convey the conviction in survival and the grief that inevitably follows. The days and nights all blend into one when tragedy after tragedy befalls the women, but they do not allow their anguish to stop them.
Nasrallah writes of a reality that sounds like a nightmare. The conditions of life under occupation are torturously painful, but his characters are a source of strength. They are the light in a world of darkness.


What We Are Reading Today: Reading Machiavelli

Updated 19 September 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Reading Machiavelli

Author: John P. McCormick

To what extent was Machiavelli a “Machiavellian”? Was he an amoral adviser of tyranny or a stalwart partisan of liberty? A neutral technician of power politics or a devout Italian patriot? A reviver of pagan virtue or initiator of modern nihilism? Reading Machiavelli answers these questions through original interpretations of Niccolò Machiavelli’s three major political works— The Prince, Discourses, and Florentine Histories— and demonstrates that a radically democratic populism seeded the Florentine’s scandalous writings. John McCormick challenges the misguided understandings of Machiavelli set forth by prominent thinkers, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau and representatives of the Straussian and Cambridge schools.
McCormick emphasizes the fundamental, often unacknowledged elements of a vibrant Machiavellian politics: The utility of vigorous class conflict between elites and common citizens for virtuous democratic republics, the necessity of political and economic equality for genuine civic liberty, and the indispensability of religious tropes for the exercise of effective popular judgment.
Interrogating the established reception of Machiavelli’s work by such readers as Rousseau, Leo Strauss, Quentin Skinner, and J.G.A. Pocock, McCormick exposes what was effectively an elite conspiracy to suppress the Florentine’s contentious, egalitarian politics. In recovering the too-long-concealed quality of Machiavelli’s populism, this book acts as a Machiavellian critique of Machiavelli scholarship.
Advancing fresh renderings of works by Machiavelli while demonstrating how they have been misread previously, Reading Machiavelli presents a new outlook for how politics should be conceptualized and practiced.