I Was Born There, I Was Born Here
Publication Date: July 17, 2012
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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.
Humphrey Davies is an award-winning translator of Arabic literature from the Ottoman period to the present. Writers he has translated include Yusuf al-Shirbini, Elias Khoury, Alaa Al Aswany, Bahaa Taher, Muhammad Mustagab, Gamal al-Ghitani, Hamdy el-Gazzar, Khaled Al-Berry, and Ahmed Alaidy. He lives in Cairo.