The Lady from Tel Aviv: 38 years of exile

The second edition of Palestinian writer Rabai al-Madhoun’s novel Al-Sayyeda Min Tal Abib (The Lady from Tel Aviv) was published shortly before the winner of the Arabic version of the Poker Prize was announced. Al-Madhoun’s novel was short-listed for the prize, however it was a novel by Saudi writer Abdo Khal that won it.
The writer masterfully meshes three stories into one big novel. The first is about Walid Dahman, who has returned to Egypt after spending 38 years in exile. While Dahman was in Cairo, the 1967 war broke out with Israel occupying Gaza and Sinai. Dahman is forced into exile, finally settling in Britain.
Dahman returns to Cairo, seemingly to see his mother after 38 years of separation. But the real reason for his return is a desire to simultaneously live the events of the very novel he is writing.
The novel Dahman is writing is about a man called Adel el-Beshity. Dahman takes a plane from London’s Heathrow Airport to Tel Aviv and through his conversation with an Israeli actress named Dana, who happens to be sitting next to him on the plane, the events of al-Madhoun’s second story start to unfold.
The third story is about the real life of Adel el-Beshity, not the protagonist of Dahman’s novel.
As the three stories eventually interlace, the unspoken-of worlds at the Tel Aviv Airport, the border crossings, and in Gaza are revealed as the novelist successfully deconstructs stereotypical depictions of Palestine, homeland and exile.
Book:Al-Sayyeda Min Tal Abib, (The Lady from Tel Aviv)
Author:Rabai Al-Madhoun
Publisher: Arab Institute for Studies and Publishing ,2010, Beirut
325 big-size pages

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