One Book – Many Communities ‘Mornings in Jenin’

Friday 3 April 2015

Report on One Book – Many Communities

‘Mornings in Jenin’

End of January 2015 IBBY Palestinian Section held its meeting in the afternoon at Tamer Institute. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the book ‘Mornings in Jenin’ by Suzan Abulhawa which was the first book to be read by Librarians and Archivists with Palestine in the program of One Book, Many Communities

The book was introduced and summarized by Mary Fasheh the, vice president of IBBY, Palestine Section. Mary started by speaking briefly about “Librarians with Palestine”, their visit to Palestine in 2013 sand their project “One Book – Many Communities”.

Because few of the participants have not read the book, Mary spoke briefly about the Author Susan Abulhawa and an outline of the events. She started with the grandparents Abu al-Haija living peacefully in Ein Hod, the forced displacement into Jenin, the kidnapping of the baby Ismail, the birth of Amal, her marriage and birth of her daughter and moving to the States.

Mar y asked Samar Qutob, from Tamer Institute, to talk about her meetings with three groups consisting of field representatives, teachers and librarians held in Jenin, Nablus and Ramallah who discussed the book. Samar said that people loved the book very much but, some, mainly the youth, thought that picturing Ismail who became a soldier in the Israeli army, as humane, is not realistic. This criticism reflected the feelings of the Palestinians who live under Israeli occupation and look at the soldiers as brutal; some said that this is un- realistic image of an Israeli soldier.

General Discussion

The participants said that this is a very good and interesting book that beautifully reflects the life in Palestine before their uprooting. It is one of the very expressive books on the ongoing tragedy of the Palestinian people because of the horrific Nakba (catastrophe)

Some liked the description of Dalia who is pictured like a gypsy running beautiful and youthful; the expressions are very strong; but the beautiful dimension of the story lies more in the hidden meanings and the depth which the story reflects.

The story of how Dalia lost her son is very touching and looked like a nightmare. When Dalia and her husband Hasan could not find the child and they lost with him all hope. It is very telling how Abulhawa describes how the grandfather Yahia struggled to go back to die in his homeland.

Few thought that the description of Dar al-Tifl, especially the food and the principal, was not necessarily representative of this orphanage. The founder brought all the orphan children into this house and made it into a haven for them after their parents were massacred in Deir Yasin.

Some thought that the ending of the story does not reflect the real situation it is more wishful thinking.

The participants thought that the most suitable title for the book is “The Scar of David” or The Arabic title “Baynama yanamu al-‘Alam = While the World Sleeps”
Both languages of the book (English and Arabic) are very good.

All participants were pleased that this valuable book is being shared and read around the world. hoping for more similar activities.

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