A Suspended Life

Publishing House: Al Dar Al Ahlia Bookstore

Publication Year: 2014

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 407

“A Suspended Life,” a novel by the distinguished Palestinian novelist Atef Abu Saif. It was first published in 2015 by Al-Ahliya Publishing and Distribution House in Amman. The novel gained significant recognition. Making it to the final shortlist of the 2015 World Prize for Arabic Fiction, often referred to as the “Arab Booker Prize.”

The novel set in a Gaza refugee camp and revolves around the life and death of Naim. Naim is the owner of the camp’s only printing press, known for printing posters of Palestinian martyrs. But when the Israeli army shot and killed him. His son chooses not to print a poster for him. This decision sparks a deep discussion within the community about the nature of heroism. In addition to the dilemma between engaging with life or accepting exile. Naim’s death brings unexpected changes to the outskirts of the camp, particularly concerning a hill where Naim had built his house. The government’s plan to construct a mosque and police station on this hill, which holds a significant place in the collective memory of the camp’s residents, is met with strong resistance. The opposition to the project culminates in a confrontation with the police.

“A Suspended Life” intricately weaves together various elements of life in Gaza and Jaffa, the original home of the camp’s refugees. Through a series of flashbacks, narrative shifts, and overlapping anecdotes. Abu Saif crafts a vivid portrayal of a community where people interact, argue, and struggle. The novel explores the redefinition and establishment of concepts such as identity, heroism, and life itself.

The story also delves into the profound moments that shape our lives, as exemplified by the character of Salim. As he walks down Jalaa Street, from the intersection of Saraya heading north. Salim contemplates the city of Jaffa and its complexities. He reflects on the ambitious nature of the city, juxtaposed with the fear of that very ambition. Obviously, throughout his musings, Salim notes that while ambition is essential, the harsh reality often poses significant challenges. He realizes that every person has ambitions and lives within a certain reality. In addition to the success in achieving one’s ambitions is tied to their relationship with the reality they inhabit.

“A Suspended Life” is not just a narrative about individual characters. It is a reflection of the broader Palestinian experience, capturing the nuances of a community’s struggle for identity and existence amidst ongoing conflict and displacement. The novel stands as a testament to Atef Abu Saif’s skill in portraying the intricacies of life under occupation and the enduring spirit of the Palestinian people.

Read More About Atef Abu Saif

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