by Jeffrey Canton
Eleven-year-old Malaak Abed Atieh's world is collapsing around him. It's 1988, and we're in Gaza City. This is occupied territory. Malaak doesn't understand what's happened to her father who went one morning to Israel to look for work as a mechanic and never returned. We later learn that the bus he was travelling on was bombed by the shabab, the youth fighters in the intifada. Clinton perfectly captures the sense of conflict that Malaak and her family are embroiled in, trying to find a voice for the Palestinians outside of the fundamentalism of the Islamic Jihad. It is an exceptional novel that expresses the devastating pain of the conflict and yet tries desperately to find glimpses of beauty¨in the colours of a sunset or the sheen of a pigeon's feathers, in the taste of a lovingly prepared meal, the words of poems, in the comfort of family connections.