A Lake Beyond the Wind

Two caveats before picking up this solid, character-rich novel: Know the political outlines of the 1948 Mideast war, and remember that the author originally wrote for Arabic-speaking readers. That in mind, this a memorable, compassionately realistic, peasant’s-eye view of that war. When history overtakes the simple village of Samakh, near Lake Tiberias, only one thing seems clear to its men: Duty demands that they fight. And so they join the often chaotic, under-supplied, under-trained Arab armies under banners they don’t quite understand and don’t seem to care too much about, for in their minds they are fighting, simply, “for Palestine.” Radi, Najib, Ahmad Bey, Mansour and ‘Abd al-Rahman “the Iraqi” are all unknown soldiers, men of the earth, full of pride and parochialism who rise, however fitfully, to courage. But these men meet not victory but the dark humiliation of defeat, and must watch as their homes and families are scattered to the winds in what Palestinians today call al-nakhbah, “the disaster.”
A Lake Beyond the Wind

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