Literary Evening at the El-Hakwati Theatre, Palestine

“Being part of the art and literature scene in Jerusalem, Palestine has been a rewarding, insightful experience. The El-Hakawati Theatre was a perfect location and it was an amazing experience to discuss the book with Jerusalem’s literary elite and to discover their experience of a novel that was inspired by their country.”

Literary critic Abdallah Dais wrote his thoughts on the book and shared it at the literary evening. Warning: Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t read the book.

“Mystery, justice, brutality, excitement and love are just a few words that conquer your mind while sailing through this thrilling novel. You optimistically watch the jasmine flowers falling down like pearls of dew on the cover page. However, when you think of the main character, Jasmine, setting off in a painful journey searching for her missing father in his homeland Palestine, in dismal circumstances in a harsh and brutal world, guided only by very far memories, confusing letters and nightmares, which are ensued by the cold blooded murder of the eight-year-old boy Ali, you start to wonder whether to keep optimistic or just fall with Jasmine into pessimism. Here, appears Josh as a rescuing angel, guides Jasmine through her dreadful journey, rescues her every time she thinks she is dipping into a bottomless pit, only to have doubts when you find out that he is really an Israeli soldier fulfilling his duty tightening the handcuffs on the already suffocated necks of the Palestinian people.

Jasmine starts her journey pursuing a fortune she would lose if she didn’t find her missing father, but ends up finding a real treasure- faith that takes over her soul and peace which arises from an endless conflict. Throughout her amazing journey to the Holy Land, events unfold naturally to show much of the suffering Palestinians are afflicted with, without direct description of the atrocities Israelis commit every day, and without demonizing enemies and depriving them from the remnants of humanity that some of them may have. This quiet description could beat all the propaganda manufactured by the media engines around the world with a truly innocent and convincing language.
The letters by Bert to his father are a smart trick which increases the excitement and keeps the reader looking forward to put all the rings together and find out the secret behind them. These letters serve their purpose quite well. They open the way to compare the suffering of the Palestinian people with those who were victimized by the ruthless wars in Europe, only to turn into predators themselves imitating what they had suffered and destroying the lives of the Palestinians who had nothing to do with the atrocities in Europe. Bert waits too long to meet the eyes of Jasmine, which resemble the eyes of her grandmother, the only survivor of a massacre he helped to commit. Then comes his grandson Josh, an Israeli soldier himself, to accompany Jasmine through her journey showing a slight trace of humanity flourishing amongst the filthiness of an inhumane occupation.
Does Josh really love Jasmine? And, can such a relation be real? The author keeps this question unanswered… The search for love in a rumpled land continues, but it certainly can’t thrive until justice prevails and oppression is lifted.”

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Published by Shereen Malherbe

Shereen Malherbe is a writer & author. Her novel, Jasmine Falling has been voted as one of the top 20 Best Books by Muslim women. Her second contemporary fiction novel, The Tower, was published by Beacon Books on April 2019. Her first children's book, The Girl Who Slept Under The Moon is coming soon.

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