Isabella Hammad’s debut novel pays homage to Palestine

It is a look into Palestinian history, from the onset of the First World War to Palestine’s independence through the eyes of a young man named Midhat Kamal from Nablus. (Supplied)
Updated 11 August 2019

Isabella Hammad’s debut novel pays homage to Palestine

  • The novel is brimming with exquisite details, from France to Nablus, from the politics to the people

CHICAGO: From Isabella Hammad, winner of the Plimpton Prize for emerging writers, comes an exceptional debut novel, “The Parisian.” It is a look into Palestinian history, from the onset of the First World War to Palestine’s independence through the eyes of a young man named Midhat Kamal from Nablus. His life is one long journey that will force him to endure aspects of himself and the landscape around him with an analytical eye, and one that will help shape him, his future, and the ever-evolving political future of the Arab world and Palestine in the 20th century. 

The novel begins in 1914 when Midhat is traveling to France to attend medical school at the University of Montpellier. The son of a wealthy merchant named Haj Taher Kamal, Midhat loses his mother at a young age, is raised by his grandmother and attends the Mekteb-i Sultani boarding school in Constantinople. Although he has experienced a lot before he leaves Nablus, France forces him to look at himself as a possible doctor and as an Arab in Europe. Things may be different in France, but there are similarities between the Nablus countryside, with its hills and dry greenery, and Montpellier’s mountains and small streets.

With the world at war, Midhat’s life takes unpredictable turns along with the lives of those around him. He falls in love, faces betrayal, leaves France and comes back to Nablus only to find that the British have now taken the place of the Turks. The backdrop to this story is one that is pivotal to both Arab and Palestinian history. And while France serves as a prestigious opportunity for a young man, Midhat realizes that not everything is always better in Europe, especially during wartime. 

Hammad’s novel is brimming with exquisite details, from France to Nablus, from the politics to the people. She has captured an entire era, one of the most crucial moments in history through the eyes of Midhat, his Teta and his friends. Through him, there is a sense of ever-evolving change where lives are taken and given, villages and cities transformed, and governments made and broken.

There are layers of stories in Hammad’s debut novel, which pays homage to an ancient land where multiple faiths and hopes have turned the soil. The land in Nablus is riddled with structures built and half-built, indicating it is a place that has endured time and its people. 

Manal Shakir is the author of "Magic Within” published by Harper Collins India.


What We Are Reading Today: Free for Life by Christopher Lee Maher

Updated 17 October 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Free for Life by Christopher Lee Maher

Unresolved physical, spiritual, mental and emotional stress, tension, and structural distortion rob people of their ability to do what they truly love. The majority of the available tools designed to help you manage your complex stressors are a distraction from the underlying road blocks that keep your body from healing itself. There is a much better way to rebalance and restore your health so you can resume doing all the things that bring you joy, peace and happiness.

The intense complex stressors  Christopher Lee Maher experienced as a child and as a Navy SEAL inspired him to embody, study and develop powerful systems that create instantaneous, permanent change at a conscious, unconscious and subconscious level.

He introduces his remarkable wellness program in Free for Life. His True Body Intelligence system is a suite of  subtractive methodologies specifically designed to restore balance to the emotions, body, brain, and nervous system, according to a review published on goodreads.com.

The systems within True Body Intelligence assist in reintegrating every aspect of your being to offer real, permanent solutions for root causes, not bandages for symptoms.