In the shadow of the Separation Wall

Once upon a country: a Palestinian life

by Sari Nusseibeh

In paperback (Picador, 2008, 584 pages)

Nussibeh belongs to the highest strata of Palestinian society and so his life experience differs greatly from that of the average resident of a West Bank town. He has, however, sacrificed much for his commitment to the Palestinian national cause and his memoir contains a lot of interesting detail of his important participation in the (now almost forgotten) Intifada of the late 1980s. Nussibeh—a philosopher—also brief touches on his fascinating scholarship in aspects of Islamic philosophy. The chief value of Nussibeh’s memoir may be that it allows Western readers to hear the voice of a Palestinian intellectual actually on the ground there (he is president of Al-Quds University), in contrast to those in residence in Europe or the U.S.