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A Long Walk from Gaza

A Long Walk from Gaza

By Asmaa Alatawna

Translated by Caline Nasrallah and Michelle Hartman

Paperback, fiction-in-translation, 248 pages, $16, April 2024

Available from the publisher at www.interlinkbooks.com, www.amazon.com, and from Jerusalem’s Educational Bookshop.

The violence of life in Gaza, which has taken on immense proportions for the whole world to see, is intimately rendered here in a human story of resistance and resilience.

In the tradition of Palestinian women writers, Asmaa Alatawna has gifted us a novel that is both personal and political, and that exposes both the occupation and the patriarchy. A Long Walk from Gaza is a coming-of-age story that follows its teenage protagonist through her battles with a strict and abusive father, the exhilaration of her first crush, confrontations with occupation soldiers, and the heartbreak of leaving her home in Gaza for a new life in Europe. Beginning in Europe and working her way back to the protagonist’s birth and early childhood, Alatawna’s creative narration mirrors the traumas of her life and her people.

A Long Walk from Gaza exposes the harshness of both male authority and the stifling of the dreams of girls in parallel with the devastating conditions Palestinians endure under a brutal Israeli occupation; it also uncovers the challenges of fleeing these for a cold, alienating life in Europe. Alatawna lays all this bare within a story that also showcases moments of humor, joy, and the human capacity to survive and thrive at all costs. She skillfully weaves together the challenges of growing up in occupied Palestine while exposing the many intersections of violence, patriarchy, and growing up in a society that offers girls little to no compassion. Her teenage protagonist’s feminist point of view is fresh and honest, powerfully conveying the heartbreaking truths of her life.

At heart, A Long Walk from Gaza is a tale of freedom. Each of the characters is psychically wounded by their circumstances and each resists in their own way. Gaza comes to life in Alatawna’s novel, showing a rich and diverse society – its flaws along with its beauty, revealing worlds, some of which are being destroyed and some of which no longer exist today.

Praise for A Long Walk from Gaza

“[The novel] recounts the individual struggle of a woman carving out a path to create a free life for herself. This woman is completely absorbed by finding freedom from all authority –the Israeli occupation, her father, and society alike. It is a novel written with honesty, courage, and a willingness to be confrontational, without fear of judgment. It is as if the writer is using her own words to say what the protagonist says to an Israeli soldier who tells her to get off the bus, ‘I’m not getting off and I’m not moving from here. Stab me if you want!’” Maha Hassan, Al Araby

Born in Gaza in 1978, Asmaa Alatawna is a Palestinian Bedouin from the Naqab desert and a French citizen since 2001. A graduate of Al-Azhar University, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in English literature, Alatawna then went on to get her master’s degree in geopolitics from Sciences Po (Paris). While in Gaza, she worked at the Spanish press agency, EFE. Alatawna is known for her involvement in art and gender initiatives.

Translators

Caline Nasrallah is a literary translator, editor, and researcher with a focus on language as a feminist tool. She has co-translated two novels, A Long Walk from Gaza being her third. Her editing and translation work spans fiction and nonfiction. She endeavors to put language at the service of liberation in each of her projects.

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