"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