I Was Born There, I Was Born Here
By Mourid Barghouti
(Walker & Company, Hardcover, 9780802779977, 240pp.)
Publication Date: July 17, 2012
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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In 1996, award-winning Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti returned to his home for the first time since his exile-first in Egypt, then in Hungary-following the Six-Day War in 1967, and wrote I Saw Ramallah, a poignant and acclaimed memoir of the exile's lot. A few years later, he returned to the Occupied Territories to introduce his Cairo-born son, Tamim, to his Palestinian family. Soon after returning to Egypt, Tamim was arrested for taking part in a demonstration against the impending Iraq War, and ironically was held not only in the same Cairo prison his father had occupied before being expelled from Egypt when Tamim was a baby, but in the very same cell. Tamim then felt the same sting of exile as he was banished from Egypt.
Explaining to his son, and to the world, the life decisions he has made, I Was Born There, I Was Born Here illuminates the path of exile across generations. Ranging freely back and forth in time between the 1990s and the present, Barghouti poignantly recalls Palestinian history and daily life while expressing the meaning of home and the importance of being able to say, standing in a small village in Palestine, "I was born here," rather than saying from exile, "I was born there." His elegant and expressive prose, beautifully rendered in Humphrey Davies' sensitive translation, is full of life and humor in the face of a culture of death. I Was Born There, I Was Born Here is destined, like its predecessor, to become a classic.
Mourid Barghouti was born in 1944 near Ramallah. He has published thirteen books of poetry in Arabic including a Collected Works (1997) and received the Palestine Award for Poetry in 2000. A selection of his poetry, Midnight and Other Poems, was published in English in 2008. He lives in Cairo with his wife, the novelist and critic Radwa Ashour.Humphrey Davies has translated many Arabic books by a wide range of authors, including Bahaa Taher, Khaled al-Berry, and Ahmed Alaydi. His translation of Elias Khoury's Gate of the Sun was awarded the Banipal Prize, and that of Alaa Al Aswany's The Yacoubian Building was voted Best Translation of 2007 by the Society of Authors in London.