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

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: Jeanine Basinger

Updated 18 November 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Jeanine Basinger

Author: Jeanine Basinger

Irresistible and authoritative, The Movie Musical! is an in-depth look at the singing, dancing, happy-making world of Hollywood musicals, beautifully illustrated in color and black and white.
“This is an essential text for anyone who’s ever laughed, cried, or sung along at the movies,” said a review in goodreads.com.
“This is an extensive, hugely in-depth exploration of the Hollywood movie musical spanning from its iterations at the birth of the sound era to the decades that many people saw it’s death, low-level popularity and then eventually, re-birth in the 20th century,” the review added.
Author Jeanine Basinger has appeared in several movie-related documentaries and completed audio commentaries about a dozen classic films.
She is a film historian, professor of Film Studies at Wesleyan University and curator and founder of The Cinema Archives at Wesleyan University. In addition, she is a trustee emeritus of the American Film Institute anda member of the steering committee of the National Center for Film and Video Preservation.