‘And so begins a tale that is immersed in the history of an uprooted nation, that has seen the larger part of its people forced into fleeing their homes from the terror unleashed on the day Israel declared its state. For those Palestinians who chose to remain behind, the occupation’s incessant humiliations and intimidation continue to be an everyday horror and Jasmine’s father’s family is no exception.
‘Jasmine Falling’ is a multi-layered novel in that it oscillates between the unresolved political narrative related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the mystical, even mythical portrayal that seems tethered to any discourse or even work of literature wherever Jerusalem and Islam are concerned. And thus it is rather no surprise that the author conjures up the Jinn, and speaks of shadows and whisperings as if the place, Palestine, were a living breathing entity, a character holding its own within the structure of the novel, actively involved in the characters’ lives, etching its place into their individual narratives, refusing to be ignored.
From the streets, the gates of the Old City loomed into view. They towered above her with locks clamped on either side of the open doors. A raven squawked from a perch on its walls, the sound splintering through her bones as she entered into the maze. Smoke hissed and escaped the kebab shops, shisha smoke blew from the lips of old men, drawn from decorated glass bulbs… The shops were made of the same mould, cut from ancient stone and formed from the natural concaves in the rock… The place itself felt familiar. It had barely changed in thousands of years despite the wars, crusades and occupations. A feeling of déjà vu crept into her bones, reminding her of the nightmares she used to have all those years ago as a child … ‘Don’t forget your heritage here, Jasmine. Don’t forget the land’s heritage. It is part of you’. Her father’s voice resonated in her head’
What distinctively sets this promising author’s work apart from other recently released, arguably more polished fiction on the same subject is her intelligent choice to include the narrative of ‘the other’. There is a belief many share that literature opens up the world to readers, it allows them to ‘hear’ and ‘see’ and ‘feel’ the different points of view with regards the same event offering multiple perspectives on the world that may not be possible in real life.
As such, the beautifully written letters of ‘Bert’ to his papa – possibly my favourite bits in the book – elevate not only the author’s writing style but also reflect a mature, confident writer behind them who believes in fair play. That said, there is no doubt where this author’s allegiances lie, and what her powerful messages are about; love, hope, resilience, faith and human compassion. Shereen Malherbe is one promising writer who is a definite contender on the scene and one to duly take note of.’
To read the full review by Rana Asfour, visit the beautiful BookFabulous site.