Book Review- Out of It: A Window to Palestine

Selma Dabbagh, a British-Palestinian author based in London, has been writing short stories since many years which have been published in many anthologies around the world. Out of It is her maiden novel reflecting Israel- Palestinian conflict in a most honest and riveting tales. It tells the lives of the people under occupation and who are struggling in a horrific way in their day-to-day lives. According to Ahdaf Soueif, author of The Map of Love, Out of It is ‘an original and vivid voice.’

The novel open abruptly, with the Israeli attack on Gaza leaving the people of the city in a very panic state rescuing for their lives and the lives of their loved ones. This is somewhat we witness last year when Israel carried out air strikes on Gaza till 51 days. Debbagh, being a Palestinian is aware of the conflict existing in the region. The story of the novel revolves around the family of Mujahid, who are in a way more privileged than their neighbours. Like many other Palestinian families, they are also itinerant who have learnt to adjust with their surroundings, attaching values to small things. Placed in Gaza, Mujahids have been the witness of the early years of the second intifada.

The family of Mujahids comprises of four members; three children and a mother are trying to cope up with the situations in Gaza. The story revolves around Rashed and Iman as they try to survive and establish themselves in a world full of chaos and uncertainties of lives. They are caught between Palestinian ethos, occupation, religious fundamentalism and the divisions between Palestinian factions. Studying in best education centres they are not able to detach themselves from the Palestinian struggle for justice against apartheid as they have lived in the midst of all the atrocities committed for the sake of occupation. They are a witness of a genocide of their people in the hand of Israeli forces and finally devoting their lives for the Palestinian causes leaving aside their careers.

The novel is a heartrending story of people under occupation, surviving against all odds and adverse situation, struggling to cope up in a situation which is totally against their wish. It is an extraordinary tragic saga put down into the form of novel one can’t imagine. The credit goes to the author in creating such flesh-and-blood characters with their morals Dabbagh has tried to nail the details in the novel of the incidents and happenings occurring in the Palestine and the sufferings of the people. Its draws us right into the complexities of the Palestinian people being tormented by the Zionist forces and also into the other part of the Arab world being fragmented due to various reasons. The novel focuses on the politics of Palestine at large; as how the Politicians are more concerned about politics than the sufferings of people. It tells about differences existing within the various fractions of the Palestinians politics.

Reading Out of It is like a window to Palestine as one can understand the situation in which Palestinians especially people of Gaza are surviving amidst such strict conditions and atrocities. Hope peace restored to the region soon and no innocent life is lost in any clash.

(The writer, an Associate Professor at the Department of Applied Sciences & Humanities, is based in the Indian city, Allahabad.)

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