‘Mornings in Jenin’ a poignant reminder of Palestinian suffering

Book review by Ghadeer Ghloum

KUWAIT: Susan Abulhawa’s novel Mornings in Jenin takes readers on a heartbreaking journey to explore the heavy history of Palestine and its people’s suffering in exile. Through the eyes of Amal, the protagonist, Abulhawa narrates the profound impact of war and displacement on individuals and communities. The novel narrates the journey of the Abulheja family, who are forcibly displaced from their ancestral land in Palestine during the Nakba in 1948.

From the destruction of their village to their physical and emotional exile in refugee camps in Jenin, the novel, published in 2010 by Bloomsbury, displays a deeply human version of the experience of statelessness and exile. One of the most remarkable strengths of Abulhawa’s novel is the author’s ability to meticulously portray the trauma, resistance and hope that exist within a community that refuses to submit and surrender. While at times the novel becomes heartbreaking with tragedy and sadness, Abulhawa balances such emotions with moments of love, activism, humanity and hope.

Susan Abulhawa, Author of Morning in Jenin

Furthermore, the novel highlights a historical context of the Zionist occupation of Palestine, which pushes readers to reflect on the profound impact it has on the lives of the victims. Mornings in Jenin is an important and powerful novel that highlights the marginalized perspective of individuals living in exile and wrestling identity crises. It is a thought-provoking read that challenges stereotypes and encourages humanity and understanding. This novel is a must read for anyone seeking to gain a deeper understanding of humans who suffer in silence on the margins of the world.

Uncertainty and exile in Mornings in Jenin Since the Zionist entity’s dispossession of Palestinians and its occupation of their land, Palestinians became refugees who live in camps, which represent the unknown. In those camps, Amal, the protagonist, is born with an undefined identity that attaches uncertainty to her present and future life. Everything that defines her origins and ancestors is erased, except for a few pictures of her family and stories told by her father, a technique which the protagonist’s daughter, Sara, later uses to keep Palestine and Palestinians from being forgotten and erased from world history.

Statelessness deprives Amal of her identity and rights, which leaves her vulnerable to different forms of oppression. Being a refugee, Amal becomes part of undefined and oppressed community that the world, including non-refugee Palestinians, view as disadvantaged and look at with downward glances. Despite their anticipation for the world’s help, Palestinian refugees are marginalized and betrayed by the world’s lethargy towards defending them. No country wills to fully embrace their issue and take immediate action to protect them from statelessness and support their right to go back and live freely and safely in their stolen homeland.

Not belonging anywhere leaves stateless Amal not only in physical exile, but also in a state of emotional exile as her identity splits into two parts after migrating to the US, one that is eastern – Palestinian – that holds her origins and history, but leaves her undocumented, and another that is western – American – which offers her documentation, but strange and emptied of her roots. The significance of education in Mornings in Jenin The novel also portrays education as the string of hope for Palestinian refugees to compensate and rebuild their destroyed lives and identities. Amal lives the situation by seeking refuge in knowledge and receiving an educational degree, which rewards her with recognition and restores her value after it was shattered due to statelessness.

Resistance in Mornings in Jenin The novel presents different forms of resistance that Palestinians use to threaten their oppressors’ dominance and prove their existence despite the Zionists’ efforts to deny it. Mansour, the son of Amal’s best friend, manifests an example of resistance in the novel. Despite his inability to speak due to his traumatic experience with Zionist forces, Mansour refuses to internalize his devaluation and submit to the unfortunate reality of marginalization. With his artistic skills, he voices his oppression and frustration. He paints pictures of activists who died while demanding their rights, to keep them from being forgotten and erased from the world.

Another example is Sara, who uses her intellect and writing skills to charge her website with writings about the Palestinians’ oppression and exposes it to the whole world. A brief about the author: Who is Susan Abulhawa? Susan Abulhawa is Palestinian American writer, who was born to refugees of the Six Day War of 1967. Her family’s land was seized and the Zionist entity captured what remained of Palestine, including Jerusalem. She was born in Kuwait in 1970 before moving to the US as teenager. She graduated in biochemical science and established a career in medical science. In July 2001, Susan Abulhawa founded Playgrounds for Palestine, a non-profit dedicated to upholding the right to play for Palestinian children. Mornings in Jenin is her first novel.

The post ‘Mornings in Jenin’ a poignant reminder of Palestinian suffering appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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