Cover image for Dreaming of Palestine : a novel of friendship, love & war
Dreaming of Palestine : a novel of friendship, love & war
Ghazy, Randa.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Sognando Palestina. English
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : George Braziller, 2003.

Physical Description:
182 pages ; 22 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
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X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Writing in a passionate blend of poetry and prose, fifteen-year-old first-time novelist Randa Ghazy creates a convincing portrait of a group of friends who have grown up surrounded by fighting and know no world other than one with war or at least the threat of it. With eloquence and sensitivity, Ghazy creates a portrait of life in the Middle East that alternates the horrors of living amid war with the experiences of life-altering friendships, growing-up, falling in love, and dreaming of the future. Ibrahim, Nedal, Ramy, Mohammad, Ahmed, Gihad, Riham, and Uilad are characters with whom we can identify, even as they are experiencing the unimaginable.

Imagining the day-to-day experience of the Arab-Israeli conflict from a Palestinian perspective, Ghazy presents us with a world in which misery, frustration, and a sense of duty are ever-present, but in which hope continues to exist. Refusing to mince words, the book includes occasional passages of harsh language and depicts grim events that are meant to express the sentiments and realities of a population that the author believes to be underrepresented. By boldly depicting a sometimes shocking reality, Dreaming of Palestine underscores the importance of balancing thought with feeling, and loyalty with sympathy, making it clear that support for Israel and support for Palestine are not mutually exclusive.

Dreaming of Palestine bravely addresses a field of issues and feelings into which many writers would not even venture, and it comes at a time when maintaining freedom of speech is especially important. A novel that demands reflection, the book gives voice to the voiceless, while offering itself as a launching pad for dialogue and debate. With the confidence and eloquence of a mature novelist, the young Ghazy offers a story that might astonish readers with its intensity, but offers hope.

Author Notes

Randa Ghazy, a sixteen-year-old Italian of Egyptian descent, resides in Milan, where she attends high school.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Read and assessed as literature without reference to its context, this slim, overwrought novel fails on almost every count. Debut novelist Ghazy (an Italian-born child of Egyptian parents and 15 years old at the time she wrote the book) tells the story of a group of Palestinian friends as they live and die in the intifada, the continuing struggle for Palestinian independence. Ghazy's maddeningly repetitive style shifts for no apparent reason between attempts at free-form poetry and hyperbolic prose: "Going back in the butcher shop, Ibrahim thought again/ about that short red hair/ short red/ short red/ And poor Sarah in love/ And poor Ramy in love/ About Ramy/ And that short red hair/ About the short red hair/ About the short red hair...." The characters are indistinguishable, their individuality limited to little more than the specifics of how many and which of their family members have been killed in the war with Israel. Other than a stab at a Romeo and Juliet relationship that comes to nothing, there's virtually no plot, no suspense and very little sympathy engendered, even though Ghazy employs a multitude of exclamation points; brutal, bloody action; and evocations of tears streaming down cheeks. The controversy surrounding the book stems from the harsh invective used by the Palestinian characters ("These Israelis are beasts, beasts, they should all be killed") and the sympathetic portrayal of young people sacrificing themselves as suicide bombers. All that aside, the novel reads as if written by a 15-year-old girl who had never been to the Palestinian territories and was given a two-week deadline to expand a short story into a full-length novel. Which is exactly what it is. (Sept.) Forecast: A flop when published in Italy, the book became a bestseller in France and went on to acclaim in Arab-speaking countries. It is doubtful that Americans, who in general have less sympathy for the Palestinian cause than the French, will take to this book, but if the media picks up on the sensationalistic elements, it may provoke enough curiosity to sell well. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved