November 19, 2023

Returning to Gaza

The Lady from Tel Aviv

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“The Lady from Tel Aviv,” by the Palestinian author Rabai al-Madhoun

In his novel “The Lady from Tel Aviv,” Palestinian author Rabai al-Madhoun delves into the complex historical and contemporary issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Through the narrative journey of his protagonist Walid Dahman, from London back to Gaza, the book explores the perpetually reigniting conflict, offering no clear path to peace or stability. As Dahman navigates through his memories and stories of life inside and outside Palestine, he unravels the intricacies interwoven within these narratives.

After nearly four decades away, Dahman decides to return to Gaza, filled with conflicting emotions about exile and homeland. His journey through life, from one exile to another, culminating in his settlement in London and obtaining British citizenship, is a poignant reflection of his inner turmoil. The narrator, steeped in the nostalgia of exile, yearns for the intimate details and many stories of his homeland. In seeking a way back to Gaza, he is also searching for a path to the future, as if looking for a map to guide him toward peace and security in the present and future.

Upon returning to Gaza after four decades abroad, the author finds a city marked by time and conflict. He carries a mix of hope and nostalgia for the land of his roots, where the land itself tells a story of resilience and civilization. During his flight to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Dahman meets an Israeli artist, sparking a friendship between them. Their conversations, filled with personal life stories and thoughts on coexistence and peace, form a unique relationship in a context often leaning towards escalation and hostility.

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