Review of "Mornings In Jenin" By Suzan Abulhawa
BY: Sara Alsayed / Arab America Contributing Writer
The 2006 novel Mornings in Jenin is an extraordinary narration of a glimpse of what occurs to and in Palestine and the aftermath it has on its people (Palestinians). For example, the Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who was murdered in cold blood at the hands of the Israeli occupation. The novel is a multi-generational story that features intertextuality by taking inspiration, for instance, from Ghassan Kanafani’s Returning to Haifa and poems such as Mahmoud Darwish’s The Earth Is Closing In on Us and much more.
Suzan Abulhawa is a Palestinian American novelist, poet, essayist, scientist, activist, and mother. She is a Palestinian whose family was driven out of their home when the occupation (Israel) launched the war of 1967, capturing what remained of Palestine, including Jerusalem.
Her book Mornings in Jenin was an international bestseller and translated into more than 30 languages. During her interview with me and the rest of the students of An-Najah National University, Suzan Abulhawa mentioned that she wrote this novel to help form a connection and a bond between the old and new generations. She wished to help the younger generation understand what their grandparents or parents went through.
In my opinion,- as a Palestinian female- who currently lives in Palestine, this novel opened my eyes and truly gave me a glimpse into the past and history of my land and people. It evoked emotions, and truthfully speaking, it made me cry. It showed everything and unraveled so much trauma within others and also in me. Despite not having experienced the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe) or the 1967 war, it confirmed within me the blood of my ancestors; that their trauma is my trauma and their loss is my loss. We are bound by the blood running through our veins and bound by the blood spilled by the Israeli occupation.
As a Palestinian, I and Palestinians alike must remind the occupation that this land is not without people, but it is a land filled with brave and courageous men, women, and children who would die and, more importantly, live for this land. To live to remind the occupation, we are not done fighting for our stolen land, and we will never stop defending our people, our home, our lands, or our Palestine. As Mahmoud Darwish brilliantly said: We have on this earth what makes life worth living (على هذه الأرض ما تستحق الحياة)
I frankly admired how the writer showed all aspects of a Palestinian’s life, from romance to heartaches and obviously to Palestinian history. She did not attempt to show the Palestinians in the best light, but rather, she told the truth that the Palestinians are people; they have their ups and downs. We experience happiness, sadness, love, hate, loss, etc.
Ultimately, Mornings in Jenin is a terrific novel. It allowed the reader to live the story of each and every character and consume the reader in its words. I would highly advise anyone and everyone to read this novel. It will allow you to open your eyes to what goes beyond what you usually see in media.
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