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4.5 

Palestinian Walks

By Raja Shehadeh
Palestinian Walks by Raja Shehadeh digital book - Fable

Publisher Description

“A rare historical insight into the tragic changes taking place in Palestine.” —Jimmy Carter

From Palestine’s leading writer, a lyrical, elegiac account of one man’s wanderings through the landscape he loves, once pristine, now forever changed by settlements and walls—now with a new afterword by the author.

“I often come to walk in these hills,” I said to the man who was doing all the talking and seemed to be the commander. “In fact I was once here with my wife, it was 1999, and some of your soldiers shot at us.”

“It was over on that side,” the soldier pointed out. “I was there,” he said, smiling.

When Raja Shehadeh first started hill walking in Palestine, in the late 1970s, he was not aware that he was traveling through a vanishing landscape. In recent years, his hikes have become less than bucolic and sometimes downright dangerous. That is because his home is Ramallah, on the Palestinian West Bank, and the landscape he traverses is now the site of a tense standoff between his fellow Palestinians and settlers newly arrived from Israel.

In this original and evocative book, we accompany Raja on six walks taken between 1978 and 2006. The earlier forays are peaceful affairs, allowing our guide to meditate at length on the character of his native land, a terrain of olive trees on terraced hillsides, luxuriant valleys carved by sacred springs, carpets of wild iris and hyacinth and ancient monasteries built more than a thousand years ago. Shehadeh's love for this magical place saturates his renderings of its history and topography. But latterly, as seemingly endless concrete is poured to build settlements and their surrounding walls, he finds the old trails are now impassable and the countryside he once traversed freely has become contested ground. He is harassed by Israeli border patrols, watches in terror as a young hiking companion picks up an unexploded missile and even, on one occasion when accompanied by his wife, comes under prolonged gunfire.

Amid the many and varied tragedies of the Middle East, the loss of a simple pleasure such as the ability to roam the countryside at will may seem a minor matter. But in Palestinian Walks, Raja Shehadeh's elegy for his lost footpaths becomes a heartbreaking metaphor for the deprivations of an entire people estranged from their land.

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9 Reviews

4.5
“being able to join raja on these different walks through the years was both beautiful and devastating. to see and hear how these beautiful lands have been stolen and destroyed for decades makes my heart break more each day. palestine will be free and palestinians will have their land back.”
Beautifully writtenDescriptive writingHeartbreakingThought-provoking
“There’s no way to learn anything about the plight of the Palestinian people and not become filled with rage at the maltreatment that has been levied against them”
“In the past week, I have been desperate to shut off my phone and no longer consume the horrible footage coming out of Palestine. In that same aspect, I did not want to shut off my brain and become apathetic; this is a notion of privilege that the innocent civilians in Palestine and Israel do not have. Instead, I am learning and reflecting and trying to better understand the homeland that is shrinking, both in Gaza and in the West Bank. This memoir is a beautiful and heartbreaking collection of essays and history told through Raja Shehadeh's walks through his homeland. It details different points in the conflict through his own familial experience and his time as a land attorney. Putting this on as an audiobook during a run or walk was a way to better understand the struggle of the Palestian people and the tension between them and the Israeli government constantly expanding their borders and establishing settlements on tranquil and untouched land. If you are like me and are looking to escape the horrific news coming out of Palestine and Israel while also wanting to engage in a thoughtful and productive way, I recommend reading or listening to this book. It is a quick read, but take your time with it. Take a walk. Go for a run. Pedal a bike. Take in your own landscape around you, your home, and listen to Raja speak of his.”

About Raja Shehadeh

Raja Shehadeh is Palestine’s leading writer. He is also a lawyer and the founder of the pioneering Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq. Shehadeh is the author of several acclaimed books including Strangers in the HouseOccupation Diaries, the Orwell Prize-winning Palestinian Walks, and We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I, a finalist for the 2023 National Book Award. In 2022, he was named an International Writer of the Royal Society of Literature. He lives in Ramallah, Palestine.

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