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‘Mornings in Jenin’ (and my embarrassing confession)

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3252 mornings in jeninI thought it would be the easiest task ever writing a review of Mornings in Jenin because I consider it a masterpiece but I was wrong. I’m too close to it. I can’t get it out of my head or forget the characters and am having a hard time grasping the idea the author, Susan Abulhawa, may not be writing a sequel. I’m reacting in funny ways to this book unlike any reaction I have ever had after reading a novel.

This behavior started during the novel. One time I was so enthralled I had to close the book and savor the feeling, hence I refused to open it again for days and days. Everything at that moment was woven together in this poetic fluid harmony. I was swooned crazy and thought I could extend it, make it last forever or at least for a long long time. With apprehension and anticipation I was partly afraid for the thrashing that lay ahead, more Nakba, carefully nurtured characters I loved, gone, while the relationships remain thru eternity. I sensed my loss would be as painful as the beauty of their introduction (if that makes any sense) and I was right.

After I finished the novel I didn’t accept it was over and would read parts of it over and over and over again in the dead of winter.

About 4 or 5 weeks later it occurred to me this blog belonging to one of the characters was real and I could go there and read the characters interacting with each other in real time, as if Abulhawa were continuing her novel thru a blog. This occurred to me at 5 am as if some brilliant bulb went off inside my head so I got up in the dark and stumbled over to my computer and typed in the url ( What a disappointment that was, it only led to the website of the book!  Naturally I had to write the author then and there and beg her to write sequel, a trilogy, why not!!! In fact I tried to make her feel guilty (just a tad, sorry) as if she owed it to us, to me personally because it doesn’t seem fair, it isn’t fair.

There’s an untamed gypsy spirit coming thru Abulhawa’s writing, she conjures lyrical phrases that lull the reader into a magical sense of time and space. The book keeps growing after you put it down and that’s probably why I’m the wrong person to review this heartwrenching historical Palestinian masterpiece with enduring charismatic characters spanning several generations.

And I want a movie if you don’t mind, if it isn’t too much to ask! Pronto!

If you’d like to know more about the book or the story or the characters you’ll just have to read the book, or go to the website. I’m still too close to it to speak rationally about it, in fact it is a little embarrassing.

Recommended reading: A Voice for her People: Susan Abulhawa’s Writing Life Interview 4.08.2011

Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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