Lamis Andoni at PostGlobal

Lamis Andoni

Doha, Qatar

Lamis Andoni is a Middle East consultant for Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based news station. She has been covering the Middle East for 20 years. She has reported for the Christian Science Monitor, the Financial Times and the main newspapers in Jordan. She was a professor at the Graduate School in UC Berkeley. Close.

Lamis Andoni

Doha, Qatar

Lamis Andoni is a Middle East consultant for Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based news station. more »

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Female Arab Novelists Defy Repression

Summer reading recommendation: "The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East" by Sandy Tolan (Bloomsbury, 2007).

The book is a great piece of literary non-fiction. It tells the stories of a Palestinian and an Israeli whose lives have been intertwined and divided by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Bashir is a Palestinian whose family was forced to flee their home in Ramla as Israel was being established. And Dalia, then just a baby, moved into the same house as Bashir with her Bulgarian Jewish family fleeing the horror of the Holocaust.

Dalia and Bashir's story encapsulates the conflict in a way that has never been told before. Fears and hopes are confronted when the two discover how much they belong, yearn to remain in and love the same home, the same land. The book is a must read not only to understand in more human, and humane, terms the roots of the conflict, but also because it shows that co-existence is possible if people are free from the power structures of oppression that damage both sides.

I also recommend that readers pay attention to female Arab novelists who have shown great courage in defying repressive cultural traditions as well as political repression, whether by local or foreign powers. I would recommend Ahdaf Soueif ( Egyptian), Hanan Al-Shaykh (Lebanese), Sahar Khalifa (Palestinian), Hoda Barakat (Lebanese), Assia Djebar (Algerian) , Haifa Zangana (Iraqi) among others whose works have been translated or even written in English.

Lately, I am getting into Spanish (from Spain) and Turkish literature, but have long been a lover of Latin writings. I often escape into Roman, Arabic, English or works translated from other world languages. But the great Russian writer Gogol has been my best companion. Nikolai Gogol enables me to better laugh at, and stay above, mediocrity.

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