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Palestine's Children: Returning to Haifa and Other Stories [Paperback]

Ghassan Kanafani , translated by Barbara Harlow and Karen E. Riley
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 1 2000 0894108905 978-0894108907
Short stories describing the Palestinian experience of the Middle East conflict. Each involves a child, a victim of circumstances, who nevertheless participates in the struggle towards a better future. As in Kanafani's other fiction, these stories explore the need to recover the past by action.

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Palestine's Children: Returning to Haifa and Other Stories + Men in the Sun and Other Palestinian Stories
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Ghassan Kanafani's meteoric literary and political career ended abruptly one morning in July 1972, when his booby-trapped car exploded, killing him and his niece. At the time, Kanafani was the spokesperson for the most militant wing of the Palestinian fedayeen. That militancy is reflected in these 14 stories. Beginning with a narrative disconcertingly entitled "The Child Borrows His Uncle's Gun and Goes East to Safad," Kanafani plunges into the 1948 conflict between the Jews and Palestinians, following a 17-year-old, Mansur, whose actions mirror the author's own experiences. In a series of stories, the reader follows Mansur as he carries his old Turkish gun into the thick of sharpshooting contests with "Zionists" (as Israelis are identified in this strongly pro-Arab text) in old Palestinian town centers. Later, Mansur's uncle, Abu Al-Hassan, uses the gun on the British forces. These stories end, inevitably, with the consequences of defeat for the Palestinians: "The Child Goes to the Camp," in which the narratorAa different child than MansurAmust survive the hunger sweeping through the refugee camps. He does so with a talisman, a five-pound note he finds in the street. In the novella for which Kanafani became famous, "Returning to Haifa," the year is 1967, but the events are prefigured by the Palestinian population's uprooting from Haifa in 1948. Said S. and his wife, Safiyya, return to Haifa to the apartment they were forced to abandon and the memories of their infant son, Khaldun, inadvertently left behind in the mass panic. Miraculously, the Jewish couple who took over the apartment found and adopted the child, who is now an Israeli soldier. This story, which ends with a renunciation of even blood ties in the sacred cause of revenge, foretells the terrible violence of the '70s. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking and influential masterpiece July 22 2003
Format:Paperback
"Returning to Haifa" is certainly one of the best works of the Palestinian literary master Ghassan Kanafani. This translation contains, in addition to the title novella, a selection of Kanafani's short stories relating to children - Palestinian children. Like all other Kanafani works, this book was a tremendous pleasure to read and at the same time intensely thought-provoking. "Returning to Haifa" is perhaps one of his hardest works to translate, thanks to his profligate use of imagery, but the translators do an excellent job rendering the original text into English. As in most of his works, Kanafani experiments frequently with different techniques for telling a story, techniques that were revolutionary during his time (1960s). I particularly enjoy the twists of plot at the end of each story, and how the very last sentence forces me to re-think and re-evaluate my entire understanding of that story. Seeped in the author's struggle for freedom and for a homeland, these stories reflect a deep understanding of human relationships and the human condition. Yet despite this depth (or perhaps because of it), the main characters tend to always be ordinary human beings - in this book, children from the villages and the refugee camps. A major feature of "Returning to Haifa" is the seamless melding of two narratives, as a Palestinian family expelled from Haifa in 1948 return for the first time to see their former home after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967. The story of the expulsion is juxtaposed seamlessly with the story of their second visit and encounter with the Israelis currently occupying it. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Palestinian Struggle 1936-1967 Nov. 7 2000
Format:Hardcover
Palestine's Children: Returning to Haifa and other Stories, Ghassan Kaffani's compilation of short stories, chronicles "the political, social, and human realities . . . mark[ing] significant moments in the twentieth-century history of Palestinians" between the years of 1936 and 1967 (Kanafani, 14). Within this area of Palestinian history, the particular issues addressed in these stories fall within the historical context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Kanafani's stories do more then re-tell the historical chronology his work; indeed, he incorporates a number of themes, which frame the events of the conflict within an understanding of the Palestinian culture. Hence, through Kanafani's portrayal of history in terms of culture, the reader gains a greater understanding of the Palestinian people. And through this understanding of the people, there comes a greater understanding and sympathy towards the Arab struggle within the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as it still remains applicable to the events taking place in the Middle East today.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking and influential masterpiece July 22 2003
By Giant Panda - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Returning to Haifa" is certainly one of the best works of the Palestinian literary master Ghassan Kanafani. This translation contains, in addition to the title novella, a selection of Kanafani's short stories relating to children - Palestinian children. Like all other Kanafani works, this book was a tremendous pleasure to read and at the same time intensely thought-provoking. "Returning to Haifa" is perhaps one of his hardest works to translate, thanks to his profligate use of imagery, but the translators do an excellent job rendering the original text into English. As in most of his works, Kanafani experiments frequently with different techniques for telling a story, techniques that were revolutionary during his time (1960s). I particularly enjoy the twists of plot at the end of each story, and how the very last sentence forces me to re-think and re-evaluate my entire understanding of that story. Seeped in the author's struggle for freedom and for a homeland, these stories reflect a deep understanding of human relationships and the human condition. Yet despite this depth (or perhaps because of it), the main characters tend to always be ordinary human beings - in this book, children from the villages and the refugee camps. A major feature of "Returning to Haifa" is the seamless melding of two narratives, as a Palestinian family expelled from Haifa in 1948 return for the first time to see their former home after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967. The story of the expulsion is juxtaposed seamlessly with the story of their second visit and encounter with the Israelis currently occupying it. But the main contribution of "Returning to Haifa" is its portrayal of those Israelis, whom he shows to be themselves refugees (from the Nazis), and its success in epitomizing their perspective and their logic. It is therefore often described as the first Arabic novel which genuinely portrayed the feelings and emotions on the Israeli side. The other short stories contained in this anthology are no less worthy of praise, each in its own right. Truly, one cannot truly understand what it means to be a Palestinian without reading "Palestine's Children" or any other of Kanafani's works.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Palestinian Struggle 1936-1967 Nov. 7 2000
By Sara Bailey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Palestine's Children: Returning to Haifa and other Stories, Ghassan Kaffani's compilation of short stories, chronicles "the political, social, and human realities . . . mark[ing] significant moments in the twentieth-century history of Palestinians" between the years of 1936 and 1967 (Kanafani, 14). Within this area of Palestinian history, the particular issues addressed in these stories fall within the historical context of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Kanafani's stories do more then re-tell the historical chronology his work; indeed, he incorporates a number of themes, which frame the events of the conflict within an understanding of the Palestinian culture. Hence, through Kanafani's portrayal of history in terms of culture, the reader gains a greater understanding of the Palestinian people. And through this understanding of the people, there comes a greater understanding and sympathy towards the Arab struggle within the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as it still remains applicable to the events taking place in the Middle East today.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An AWAIR Pick!!! May 18 2011
By AWAIR Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Politics and the novel," Ghassan Khanafani once said, "are an indivisible case." It has been reflected that Kanafani "wrote the Palestine story." His narratives offer entry into the Palestinian experience that has anguished the people of the Middle East for most of the twentieth century, and now into the twenty-first. This entirely new edition, featuring the novella Returning to Haifa (must reading by even our junior high students), includes the translator's contextual introduction and a short biography of the author.

Teacher/Librarians - 7th grade and up! Social Studies/Language Arts
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking and influential masterpiece Oct. 19 2008
By Giant Panda - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Returning to Haifa" is certainly one of the best works of the Palestinian literary master Ghassan Kanafani. This translation contains, in addition to the title novella, a selection of Kanafani's short stories relating to children - Palestinian children. Like all other Kanafani works, this book was a tremendous pleasure to read and at the same time intensely thought-provoking. "Returning to Haifa" is perhaps one of his hardest works to translate, thanks to his profligate use of imagery, but the translators do an excellent job rendering the original text into English. As in most of his works, Kanafani experiments frequently with different techniques for telling a story, techniques that were revolutionary during his time (1960s). I particularly enjoy the twists of plot at the end of each story, and how the very last sentence forces me to re-think and re-evaluate my entire understanding of that story. Seeped in the author's struggle for freedom and for a homeland, these stories reflect a deep understanding of human relationships and the human condition. Yet despite this depth (or perhaps because of it), the main characters tend to always be ordinary human beings - in this book, children from the villages and the refugee camps. A major feature of "Returning to Haifa" is the seamless melding of two narratives, as a Palestinian family expelled from Haifa in 1948 return for the first time to see their former home after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967. The story of the expulsion is juxtaposed seamlessly with the story of their second visit and encounter with the Israelis currently occupying it. But the main contribution of "Returning to Haifa" is its portrayal of those Israelis, whom he shows to be themselves refugees (from the Nazis), and its success in epitomizing their perspective and their logic. It is therefore often described as the first Arabic novel which genuinely portrayed the feelings and emotions on the Israeli side. The other short stories contained in this anthology are no less worthy of praise, each in its own right. Truly, one cannot truly understand what it means to be a Palestinian without reading "Palestine's Children" or any other of Kanafani's works.

Recommend: "Men in the Sun and Other Palestinian Stories" and "All that's left to you", both by Kanafani
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inhumanity of our world Nov. 5 2006
By Truth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book describes to us the untold truth of the Palestinian people.

The author was assassinated due to the power of his books. What a shame that in a so called civilized world, we never condemn such acts.
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